House Passes Bill Banning Abortion at 20 Weeks

By Susan Jones | October 4, 2017 | 5:34am EDT
Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) displays a sonogram of her first grandchild on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. (Screen grab from C-SPAN)

( - The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill protecting human life.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would ban abortions at 20 weeks. It passed the House on a vote of 237-189, with two Republicans voting no (Reps. Rodney Frelinghuysen of N.J.; Rep. Charlie Dent of Pa.) and three Democrats voting yes (Reps. Henry Cuellar of Texas, Daniel Lipinski of Ill., Collin Peterson of Minn.).

The bill amends the federal criminal code to make it a crime for any person to perform or attempt to perform an abortion if the probable post-fertilization age of the fetus is 20 weeks or more.

Violators are subject to criminal penalties including a fine, up to five years in prison, or both.

The bill provides exceptions for an abortion if it is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman, or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. This does not including psychological or emotional conditions;

The bill also says a woman who undergoes a prohibited abortion may not be prosecuted for violating or conspiring to violate the provisions of the bill.

Among the Republicans speaking in support of the bill was Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri, who displayed an ultrasound image of her first grandchild, a girl, at 17 weeks:

Mr. Speaker, this child is a gift from God, a gift that we have far too often abandoned in this country.

We know that after three weeks, my granddaughter had a heartbeat. After seven weeks she began kicking her mother like any good Wagner child would. By week 12, she could suck her thumb. And at week 20, my granddaughter knew the sound of her mother's voice and could feel pain.

Mr. Speaker, I stand for life, from conception to natural death...and on behalf of my granddaughter I will continue to fight for the day when abortion is not only illegal, but it is unthinkable.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the bill would save more than 2,000 lives each year.

“Each one of these lives is so utterly precious, and we’re not going to stop," said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).

"We’re going to defend every life that we can; we’re going to protect every life we can. We’re going to do the right thing that we can for the babies that we can save.”

King noted that the U.S. is one of seven nations that allow elective abortion after 20 weeks (along with North Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Netherlands and Canada.)

King has sponsored legislation (The Heartbeat Protection Act) that would protect unborn babies from abortion as soon as a heartbeat is detected, well before the 20 week threshold in the bill that passed on Tuesday.

The Democrat Party issued a statement, blasting the bill as "nothing but another shameful attack on women's rights and public health."

"By restricting women’s access to safe and legal abortion, Republicans are depriving millions of women across the country of their fundamental right to make the health care decisions that are best for them and their families," said the statement attributed to Democrat National Committee CEO Jess O’Connell.

"Instead of systematically working to dismantle women’s health care and economic security, our representatives should be working to pass legislation that protects access to public health services and expands opportunities for women.

"While Donald Trump and Republicans steadfastly pursue their cruel and unconstitutional attack on women, Democrats will fight this disgraceful bill and continue to stand up for the rights of women across the country.”

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