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 Gosnellâ€™s trial raised tricky questions about what the cutoff should be for abortions and at what point fetuses feel pain â€” but Democrats said Republicans will suffer with voters who think the party ignores womenâ€™s concerns.
The bill, which passed by a 228-196 vote, marked this Congressâ€˜ first foray into pro-life issues.
â€œI am appalled by the savage practice of late-term abortion,â€ 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 â€œassault on a womanâ€™s right to choose.â€
Bill supporters said repeatedly that they were motivated by what prosecutors had called Gosnellâ€™s â€œhouse of horrors.â€ Gosnell was convicted of murder in the deaths of three babies he delivered after botched abortions.
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