House Passes Bill Banning Abortion After 20 Weeks

| by Emily Smith

The Republican dominated House of Representatives-approved bill banning abortion after 20 weeks on Tuesday with a 228-196 vote.

Supporters of the bill have called it the most important pro-life bill to be considered by Congress in the past decade and have expressed confidence that the legislation would become law. House Speaker John Boehner hopes to capitalize on the public outrage surrounding Kermit Gosnell’s conviction and draw sympathy for the acceptance of the bill.

The Obama administration called the bill an assault to a woman’s right to choose and threatened to veto the bill if it reached the White House desk. The Senate has yet to schedule a vote on the bill, though it is unlikely to pass.

While the bill includes an exception for women who are victims of rape or incest, others must first report their assault to police before obtaining an abortion. Rep. Zoe Lofgren said the exception exemplifies distrust in women and a lack of reality regarding sexual assault.

Opponents of the bill argued that House Republicans — 88 percent of which are white males — were out of touch with women. In an apparent effort to counteract such statements, Republicans tapped Rep. Marsha Blackburn to moderate the House floor debate, though she was not a member of the Judiciary Committee and had no jurisdiction of the legislation.

"This is an area that has overwhelming public support," Blackburn said in a Republican effort to draw women’s support and prove female representation. "This is a step that needs to be taken to protect life."

Ten states have passed laws similar to the one floating in Congress, though several are facing court challenges of constitutionality. Last month, a federal court struck down an Arizona law that banned abortion 20 weeks after pregnancy.

Sources: USA Today, The Washington Post

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