President Donald Trump is prepared to sign a late-term abortion ban, which the House passed Tuesday evening, if the Senate follows suit. A statement from the White House said the proposed law would promote a “culture of life.”
Proponents say the measure, prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, would restrict the procedure at the point when some medical experts say the unborn baby can feel pain.
The House passed the ban on late-term abortions shortly after 6 p.m. by a vote of 237-189, mostly along party lines.
Two Republicans, Pennsylvania’s Charlie Dent and New Jersey’s Rodney Frelinghuysen, voted against it.
Three Democrats voted yes: Henry Cuellar of Texas, Dan Lipinski of Illinois, and Collin Peterson of Minnesota.
Not voting were Republicans Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma, Billy Long of Missouri, and Barry Loudermilk of Georgia, and Democrats Jim Himes of Connecticut and Nevada’s Ruben Kihuen, Jacky Rosen, and Dina Titus.
The United States is one of only seven countries that allow elective, late-term abortions without restrictions.
The bill could have a tough time passing the Senate, however, where Republicans’ margin as the majority is 52-48.
— Carol Tobias (@CarolTobias1) October 4, 2017
— Sen. James Lankford (@SenatorLankford) October 3, 2017
In a statement of administration policy, the White House announced it strongly supports the legislation—called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act—sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. The measure, which has 170 co-sponsors, is also known as H.R. 36.
“H.R. 36 would generally make it unlawful for any person to perform, or attempt to perform, an abortion of an unborn child after 20 weeks post-fertilization, with limited exceptions,” the White House statement says. “The bill, if enacted into law, would help to facilitate the culture of life to which our nation aspires.”
The statement continues:
Additionally, the bill would promote a science-based approach to unborn life, as recent advancements have revealed that the physical structures necessary to experience pain are developed within 20 weeks of fertilization. The United States is currently out of the mainstream in the family of nations, in which only seven out of 198 nations allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. America’s children deserve the stronger protections that H.R. 36 would advance. If H.R. 36 were presented to the president in its current form, his advisors would recommend that he sign the bill into law.
Days before the House vote, the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group, noted that most other countries block abortions at this stage of a woman’s pregnancy:
— Susan B Anthony List (@SBAList) September 26, 2017
But NARAL Pro-Choice America, which considers itself an abortion rights group, pushed Congress to vote against the bill:
— NARAL (@NARAL) October 3, 2017
If passed and signed into law by Trump, the measure would ban abortion after 20 weeks, the point when it says “pain receptors (nociceptors) are present throughout the unborn child’s entire body.”
The official position of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is that unborn babies are not developed enough to feel pain until 24 weeks.
The bill includes exceptions for incest, rape, or to save the life of the pregnant woman.
Similar legislation passed the House in both 2013 and 2015.
March for Life, a group that organizes an annual rally marking the anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion, stressed the need to protect unborn children from suffering.
— March for Life (@March_for_Life) October 3, 2017
The nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, argued that lawmakers aren’t qualified to make the decision.
Heartbreaking. Politicians make crappy doctors. Leave decisions to the experts — us. https://t.co/6zvYVefSK1
— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) October 3, 2017
Ken McIntyre contributed to this report.