Senate Rejects 20-Week Abortion Ban

Mairead McArdle

The Senate on Tuesday rejected two Republican abortion bills, one that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks and another that would attempt to raise the standard of care for newborns born alive after botched abortions.

Senators voted 53 to 44 against a motion to proceed to debate on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, failing to reach the 60 votes required to overcome the Democratic filibuster against the measure.

The bill, sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham, would have made illegal all abortions performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy — the point at which pro-life advocates argue science determines a fetus can feel pain — with exceptions for when the life of the mother is in danger and for victims of rape and incest.

“There are only seven countries that allow wholesale abortions at the 20-week period, including China and North Korea,” Graham said in a tweet before the vote. “The United States should NOT be in that club.“

President Trump voiced his support for the legislation in his State of the Union address last month.

“To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb,” Trump said. “Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life.“

Also on Tuesday, Senate Democrats blocked a request by Republicans to vote on a separate bill, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would require abortion providers to attempt to “preserve the life and health” of a fetus born alive after a botched abortion. The upper chamber voted 56 to 41 against ending the filibuster.

“I urge my colleagues to picture a baby that’s already been born, that’s outside the womb gasping for air,” said the bill’s sponsor, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, arguing that “nothing in this bill touches abortion access” and it is solely about protecting “babies that have already been born.“

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