Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

20-Week Abortion Ban Heading to House Floor Next Week

The House will vote next week on a bill banning abortions across the country after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Doug Heye, deputy chief of staff to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., confirmed to CQ Roll Call that the chamber is on track to consider legislation next week that would ban all abortions after the 20-week threshold — the point at which some medical professionals believe a fetus can begin to feel pain.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., is being marked up by the full House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and has the strong backing of the National Right to Life Committee.

Heye also confirmed that the bill would be brought to the floor under a rule, designed to allow for passage via a simple majority. Franks had a previous incarnation of the bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks only in the District of Columbia, and it came up for a vote in 2012 under suspension of the rules, an expedited procedure for allowing bills to come to the floor. But such suspension measures require a two-thirds majority vote for passage, and the bill failed to pass that goal post.

An urgency to move forward with the expanded bill, however, comes amid pressure from outside groups following the the case of Kermit Gosnell, a Pennsylvania abortion doctor who was recently convicted of three counts of first-degree murder. Gosnell was found to have operated his clinic in squalor and to have killed infants after they had been born.

“The trial of Kermit Gosnell exposed late abortions for what they really are: relocated infanticide,” Franks said in a recent statement. “I pray we use this as a ‘teachable moment,’ in the words of President Obama, and can agree that, at the very least, we are better than dismembering babies who can feel every excruciating moment.”

Though the bill is expected to pass given that the House Republican majority is largely opposed to abortion, it is likely to spark ire among some moderate Republicans in vulnerable districts for whom the vote could be politically damaging either way.

When the earlier iteration of the bill was on the floor last year, then-Reps. Mary Bono Mack of California and Robert Dold of Illinois, both moderate Republicans, confronted Cantor on the chamber floor for forcing their vote on the measure.

“It was very frustrating,” Bono Mack told CQ Roll Call recently. “There were real issues to focus on that should have been the news of the day. It wasn’t this.”

Bono Mack was ultimately defeated in her re-election campaign in 2012, as was Dold.

The vote next week will also certainly prompt outrage from abortion-rights Democrats, who will, like Mack, say that Congress should be voting to create jobs and repeal the sequester, not on controversial social policy bills that are all but dead on arrival in the Senate.

Before Heye confirmed the bill’s scheduled floor consideration, NARAL Pro-Choice America released a statement in anticipation of Wednesday’s markup, calling on House Republican leaders to pass on moving the legislation beyond the committee level.

“Where is the House leadership? With such an important margin of women voting against the conservative’s out-of-touch agenda in the last election, Speaker Boehner should not be looking for more opportunities to alienate women voters,” NARAL President Ilyse Hogue said.

  • ID-2

    I was unaware the majority of the public supported late term abortions NARAL.

  • leadingedgeboomer

    No matter. Like the millionth passage of a House measure to repeal the ACA, the only purpose is to allow new Rs in the House to get on the record as voting against even more stuff, in preparation for 2014 elections.

  • Y_Knot

    That should really jump start the economy.

    • TWA

      What will “jump start” the economy is when lazy people quit waiting for congress to in some unconstitutional act, try to somehow exert some positive force on the economy. That happens when congress gets out of the way.

      • Southern1977

        Lazy People working two jobs to barely make ends meet? Your comments are decidedly anti-American. ‘We the People’ doesn’t just mean your warped image of the country.

        As a small business owner I employee 40 people and yes there are lazy people out there but there are many more hard working men and women out there.

        • TWA

          Work is nothing more than an exchange of labor, expertise or talent for a price that is agreeable to both parties involved. People working 2 jobs “to make ends meet” is either the product of an intrusive government that costs too much and confiscates too much of the fruit of those poor peoples’ labor, or the result a situation in which those people don’t have the knowledge, talent or work ethic to produce a product that can command a price that will allow them to make ends meet more easily. It is a simple economic transaction. If it is anything other than that, you are a selfish a$$ for not paying them enough to prevent that struggle.

          • Southern1977

            You have an excellent text book definition of what labor is. Having studied economics the definition is almost perfect. Your lack of understanding of the practical application is scary in its elitism. You also don’t grasp market concepts, my employees are well compensated for the industry, the market doesn’t allow me to charge more for my products/services.

            Of my forty employees roughly 50 % are in a country with a single payer healthcare system, a higher education system that does not charge tuition and has a modern tax system. My employees in Germany don’t have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. My German employees spend their three weeks of vacation in far flung parts of the world enjoying life.

            Now my employees in South Carolina don’t have those advantages and all but the two retired Army Officers, with a pension and single payer (Tricare) healthcare, work two jobs. They work hard, care for their families, and are struggling. They spend their three weeks working there other job which doesn’t provide Paid Time Off. My employees in both countries make higher than the minimum wage in both counties. (My employees in Germany are represented by a union that negotiates a minimum wage that has the effect of law.)

            Now your logic is right that the governments take money and use it differently. Pro business forces in Germany have RIGHTLY decided human capital is more important than stock-holder profits. The government’s policy reflects that, instead of taxing people and giving it to corporations who lobby for corporate tax loopholes, government contracts and other graph which Dwight Eisenhower warned us about in his farewell address, Germany provides services to her people.

            Feel free to call me a selfish a$$, you don’t have the slightest clue what the realities of economic policy are. I do have a problem with you calling hard working men and women who struggle from day to day to make ends meet “Lazy” reprehensible.

            But back to the point at hand, my employees in Germany know that their centre-right government is going to worry about making them competitive in the world not spend its days regulating abortion, voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act and naming post offices after a racist Senator.

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