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Senate GOP Urges Vote on 20-Week Abortion Ban Bill

Senate GOP Urges Vote on 20-Week Abortion Ban Bill

May 9, 2014 — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and several other Republican senators are asking Senate leaders to allow a vote on a 20-week abortion ban (S 1670) to coincide with the anniversary of illegal abortion provider Kermit Gosnell's murder conviction, Politico reports (Everett, Politico, 5/8).

Bill Details

The bill, which Graham proposed in November, would make it illegal to perform an abortion without first attempting to determine the age of the fetus since fertilization. If the fetus is found to be 20 weeks or older, providers could not perform an abortion unless the woman's life is in danger in certain circumstances or the pregnancy resulted from incest of a minor or rape, and the incest or rape has been reported to legal authorities. Providers who perform procedures under the bill's exceptions would have to take steps to ensure that the fetus has "the best opportunity" to survive, unless doing so would endanger the woman's life or pose serious bodily harm to her.

Providers who violate the law would face imprisonment of up to five years, fines or both. The woman could not be prosecuted under the bill (Women's Health Policy Report, 11/8/13).

The House has already approved a 20-week abortion ban bill (HR 1797). According to Politico, the Senate bill has the support of 41 Republican senators. Graham said he is convinced that the measure would get votes from a "handful of Democrats."

Push for Dual Vote

Politico reports that Graham and other Senate Republicans are asking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to allow side-by-side votes on the 20-week abortion ban and another bill (S 1696), proposed by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), that would bar states from enacting excessively burdensome requirements on abortion providers.

Graham wants both votes scheduled for May 13, the day Gosnell was convicted. The vote would precede Graham's Senate primary in June, Politico reports.

Comments

Graham in an interview said both issues are "worthy of debate," adding that Blumenthal has said "every senator needs to be on the record" on his own bill. Graham said he "agree[s] with that" sentiment for both bills.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Blumenthal said that his bill is "necessary to stop anti-choice state legislators from using women's health and safety as a ploy to enact unconstitutional statutes that obstruct and block women from using essential health and reproductive care."

However, Blumenthal added that while he looks forward to debate and a vote on his bill, Democrats are focused on passing legislation related to raising the minimum wage and addressing student loan debt. "These bills should be considered and debated on their own, without the distraction of non-germane legislation," he said (Politico, 5/8).