A majority of the U.S. House of Representatives supported a bill that would have prevented abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in the District of Columbia in a July 31 vote. But the bill died anyway, because it required a two-thirds majority to pass under a waiver of normal House rules.
This is a setback for the pro-life cause, but Members of Congress who voted for it deserve our thanks. Click here to send an email to your representative. If he or she voted for the bill, the email will thank him or her. If he or she voted against the bill or did not vote, your email will express your concern.
The final vote on the bill was 220 in favor, 154 against, two members voting ‘present’ and 55 members not voting.
The bill would have criminalized abortions in the District of Columbia after 20 weeks’ gestation even in cases of rape, incest and fetal abnormalities. It provided for an exception only in cases in which the mother’s life would be in danger if the pregnancy continued. Doctors who broke the law would have faced fines and imprisonment.
The 20-week figure was chosen, according to its sponsor, Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, because studies have shown that an unborn baby can feel pain at that point in his or her development. The bill would have applied only in the District of Columbia. The district has a council, similar to a city council, that regulates health care. But those rules are subject to Congress’s approval, and Congress has the power to pass laws that apply only to district residents. Eight states have similar laws, and a federal court in Arizona on July 30 ruled that the law was constitutional (a 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal panel put a hold on enforcement of the law on Aug. 1, pending an appeal of the district court decision).
The Politico website reports that both pro-life and pro-abortion groups will be “scoring” this vote; that is, they will include the vote in the evaluation of legislators they will communicate with their supporters this fall, in advance of the Nov. 6 election. And that’s appropriate; an elected official who isn’t willing to support a bill that stops abortion at a time when the unborn baby can feel pain shouldn’t be considered pro-life, and one who will vote against it has demonstrated an antipathy for the sanctity of human life.
Raise your voice with ours to support the sanctity of human life! Click here to send an email to your representative regarding the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. If he or she voted for the bill, the email will thank him or her. If he or she voted against the bill or did not vote, your email will express your concern.