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House To Vote This Week on 20-Week Abortion Ban

House To Vote This Week on 20-Week Abortion Ban

May 11, 2015 — The House is expected to vote this week on a bill (HR 36) that would ban abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy after conservative lawmakers revised the measure's language, The Hill reports (Sullivan, The Hill, 5/11).

The measure could receive a vote on Wednesday to coincide with the anniversary of the conviction of illegal abortion provider Kermit Gosnell, according to the AP/Sacramento Bee (Fram, AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/8).

Background

The bill would allow abortions after 20 weeks only in limited circumstances.

House leaders originally planned to vote on a version of the bill on Jan. 22 -- the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision -- but changed course after some conservative lawmakers raised concerns about a requirement that a rape survivor would have to formally report the rape to police to obtain an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/3).

Changes to Bill

According to the National Journal, the updated bill language could be released as soon as Monday.

In the updated bill, lawmakers revised language regarding the original measure's rape provision. Under the revised bill, rape survivors only would be able to receive abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy if they receive counseling or medical care at least 48 hours prior to the procedure.

Meanwhile, it is unclear whether any changes have been made to the original bill's incest provision, the National Journal reports. The original provision would have allowed exemptions only in cases of incest for minors, and not adults (Newhauser, National Journal, 5/8).

Meanwhile, according to the National Journal, the revised measure also includes provisions that would require women seeking abortion later in pregnancy to sign an "informed consent" form and make physicians who violate the bill liable for civil action, among other provisions (Newhauser, National Journal, 5/8).

Bill Prospects Remain 'Dim'

The legislation's overall prospects appear "dim," as it could be blocked in the Senate and would likely be vetoed by President Obama, according to the AP/Bee (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/8).

Meanwhile, according to an aide in the House, the changes to the legislation appear to have addressed some of the earlier concerns voiced by conservative lawmakers (Ferris/Sullivan, The Hill, 5/8). Nonetheless, it is not clear how the bill might be received by such lawmakers if it does not provide an exemption to adults for cases of incest, the National Journal reports (National Journal, 5/8).

Reaction

National Right to Life President Carol Tobias said the revised measure is "a strong bill."

Meanwhile, Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said the bill is "designed to deny America's women access to the full range of health care services without a meaningful exception to protect women's health." He added that the measure demonstrates that conservatives are carrying out a "'war on women'" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/8).