On Monday night, the Senate is expected to vote to move forward with a 20-week abortion ban, misleadingly titled the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban and criminalize abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy in all 50 states. Senate Republican leaders are feeling renewed pressure to hold the vote after President Trump addressed March for Life on January 19, where he showed his support for the bill and urged Senator to pass the law and “send it to my desk for signing.” Anti-abortion Senators will need 60 votes in order to pass a procedural hurdle before the bill can be brought up for a vote.
Opponents of the 20-week ban argue that the bill is another attack aimed at restricting women’s access to safe and legal abortion. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) national political director released a statement on Thursday stating, “This bill is unconstitutional and shameful on its own – the decision to have an abortion is one that should be made by women, not politicians. It’s even more outrageous that the Senate would take up this vote when they should be spending their time finding a solution for Dreamers who have spent months living in fear and anxiety.”
Dr. Daniel Grossman, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at the University of California at San Francisco called the 20-week abortion ban hypocritical in an interview. Grossman says if legislators “were serious about trying to reduce later abortion, they would do more work to improve access to early abortion.”
The 20-week ban was passed by the House of Representatives in October and is based on the false idea that at 20 weeks, a fetus is capable of feeling pain. The idea has been refuted by the vast majority of medical professionals. In July 2013, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released a facts sheet on fetal pain that states that a fetus’ capacity for feeling pain “does not develop until the third trimester at the earliest, well past the period between 20 weeks and viability.”
The 20-week ban bill has already failed to pass the Senate twice, once in 2013 and once in 2015. 20 week abortion bans have already been ruled unconstitutional in federal court, as Roe v. Wade states that abortion can’t be banned until a fetus is viable outside the womb, which isn’t until after 24 weeks.
The overwhelming majority of abortions take place prior to the 20 week mark, and those who seek out abortion later in pregnancy often do so for very complicated and personal reasons, including severe fetal anomalies, most of which can’t be detected prior to the 20 week mark.
News Source: The Hill 1/19/18; Refinery 29 1/29/18; Washington Examiner 1/25/18; ACLU 1/25/18; ACOG 7/13; Bustle 9/28/17; Feminist Newswire 11/5/17; 9/23/15