When the 114th Congress came together for their first session, two legislators in the House of Representatives re-introduced a nationwide 20-week abortion ban.
The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (HR 36), which is in direct violation of Roe v. Wade, was introduced Tuesday by Representatives Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). The same legislation passed the House last year but stalled in the Senate, where Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced a companion bill that he reportedly also plans to re-introduce.
“It is unfortunate, but not surprising, how quickly the GOP has moved to introduce this extreme measure that has nothing to do with advancing the priorities that Americans care about,” Sean Bartlett, spokesperson for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), told RH Reality Check, “but has everything to do with preventing women from making decisions that are right for their bodies and families.”
Abortion advocates have been quick to point out the fallacies propping up HR 36, including the dubious claim of “fetal pain” that has been discredited by scientists and major medical groups like the American Medical Association and British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The bill is also an affront to both Roe’s standard of viability for a fetus and its unrestricted permission of abortion in the first trimester and to save a woman’s health or life or in the case of serious abnormalities. Many of the tests used to predict serious fetal abnormalities or identify threats to a pregnant woman’s own health or safety are done after 20 weeks.
Although bills like HR 36 face less obstacles in the new Congress, where GOP legislators now dominate both chambers, President Obama has vowed to veto The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act if it reaches his desk. 20-week bans introduced at the state level – including a similar bill passed into law in Representative Frank’s own Arizona – have also been ruled unconstitutional, a decision the Supreme Court declined to review.
Media Resources: MSNBC 1/8/15; RH Reality Check 1/7/15; ThinkProgress 1/7/15; Feminist Newswire 5/13/14