Reproductive Rights

Senate Democrats Block Restrictive 20-Week Abortion Ban

Senate Democrats yesterday blocked a restrictive 20-week abortion ban, which had passed the House in May, in a cloture vote 54 to 42. To pass this ban, Republicans needed a super-majority of 60 votes. Senate leadership had decided that the motion would be a cloture vote, requiring 60 votes to pass.

via  Shutterstock
via Shutterstock

The vote fell mostly on party lines, with the majority of Republicans voting for it and a majority of Democrats voting against it. There were a few acceptions: Democrats Casey (PA), Manchin (WV), and Donnelly (IN) voted for the bill and Republicans Collins (ME) and Kirk (IL) voted against it.

HR 36, which passed through the House in May, is a restrictive 20-week abortion ban would force rape survivors under 18 years of age seeking abortion care to report the crime to authorities. For survivors over the age of 18, the only option other than reporting the crime to authorities under this restrictive bill is for the woman to seek medical attention or counseling at least 48 hours before their procedure at a location other than where they plan to have their procedure. This requires seeking two separate providers- one for medical attention or counseling and one for an abortion – and is expensive, unrealistic, and overly burdensome. There is no exception to the requirement to report rape or incest for minors.

This bill was originally brought to the House floor in January, but House Republicans were forced to pull the bill just before midnight due to concerns from Republican women about reporting requirements for rape and incest survivors. Although sponsors of the bill claim that these concerns have been addressed, HR 36 still includes immensely onerous steps for women seeking abortion care to go through.

Although the overwhelming majority of voters, both Democrats and Republicans alike, feel that this is the wrong issue for Congress to be spending its time on, Republicans in Congress have made it clear from the beginning of the year that limiting women’s access to comprehensive health and reproductive care is a top priority. House Speaker John Boehner referred to this 20-week ban as one of the most important priorities for Congress.

Media Resources: Senate Roll Call 9/22/15; Feminist Newswire 5/15/15; 1/22/15;; Cincinnati News 3/25/15;

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