Washington Post — By Mike DeBonis and Jenna Johnson October 3 at 6:04 PM
The House on Tuesday approved a bill banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, advancing a key GOP priority for the third time in the past four years — this time, with a supportive Republican in the White House.
The bill, known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, is not expected to emerge from the Senate, where most Democrats and a handful of moderate Republicans can block its consideration. But antiabortion activists are calling President Trump’s endorsement of the bill a significant advance for their movement.
The White House said in a statement released Monday that the administration “strongly supports” the legislation “and applauds the House of Representatives for continuing its efforts to secure critical pro-life protections.”
The bill provides for abortions after 20 weeks gestation only when they are necessary to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest. Under the bill, abortions performed during that period could be carried out “only in the manner which, in reasonable medical judgment, provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive” and would require a second physician trained in neonatal resuscitation to be present.
“It’s past time for Congress to pass a nationwide law protecting unborn children from the unspeakable cruelty of late-term abortion,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.
Trump first supported a 20-week abortion ban in September 2016, during the final stretch of the presidential campaign when he was working to consolidate conservative support. Antiabortion activists argue the bill is justified by emerging scientific research indicating that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks, though the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has not endorsed those findings.
The vast majority of abortions are performed earlier in pregnancy, according to federal statistics, but activists have long focused attention on what they call “late term” abortions.
In a letter circulated to antiabortion activists by the Susan B. Anthony List, Trump pledged to sign a 20-week abortion bill into law if he became president, which he said “would end painful late-term abortions nationwide.”
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