Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 22, 2014

Abortion Bill Faces Veto Threat

The White House threatened Monday to veto the bill heading to the House floor that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks.

“[It] would unacceptably restrict women’s health and reproductive rights and is an assault on a woman’s right to choose,” reads the Statement of Administration Policy. “Women should be able to make their own choices about their bodies and their health care, and Government should not inject itself into decisions best made between a woman and her doctor.

“This bill is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade and shows contempt for women’s health and rights, the role doctors play in their patients’ health care decisions, and the Constitution,” the statement continues.

Senior advisers would recommend the president veto the bill if it reaches his desk. That’s short of the “would veto” language the White House sometimes uses. And, of course, this bill has close to zero chance of ever getting to President Barack Obama’s desk, given that it is expected to be dead on arrival in the Senate.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., and intended to be “scored” by the National Right to Life Committee, is based on the belief held by some medical experts that the fetus can begin to experience pain after the 20-week threshold. As originally written, the bill would hold physicians accountable to the law for performing an abortion after that threshold and would provide exemptions only when the pregnancy poses a life-threatening risk to the mother.

But after Franks set off a firestorm with a comment about the rarity of pregnancies resulting from rape at a contentious House Judiciary Committee markup of the bill last week, Republican leadership agreed to revise the bill to allow post-20 week abortions in some cases of incest or rape.

NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson said that while his organization “liked the bill that came out of the committee,” he agreed that “the addition of this language is prudent under the circumstances to protect the forward progress of this bill.”

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