House votes to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy

by
June 19, 2013

House Republicans powered through a bill Tuesday to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, saying the recent conviction of a Philadelphia abortion provider for killing newborn babies has revived the contentious debate.

GOP lawmakers said Kermit Gosnell’s trial raised tricky questions about what the cutoff should be for abortions and at what point fetuses feel pain — but Democrats said Republicans will suffer with voters who think the party ignores women’s concerns.

The bill, which passed by a 228-196 vote, marked this Congress‘ first foray into pro-life issues.

“I am appalled by the savage practice of late-term abortion,” said Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, as she stood next to an ultrasound photo of a 20-week-old fetus on the House floor.

Under the bill, a woman is exempt from the 20-week threshold only if her life is threatened or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest and she has reported either incident before obtaining the abortion.

The Democrat-controlled Senate is unlikely to take up the measure, and President Obama said he would veto the “assault on a woman’s right to choose.”

Bill supporters said repeatedly that they were motivated by what prosecutors had called Gosnell’s “house of horrors.” Gosnell was convicted of murder in the deaths of three babies he delivered after botched abortions.

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