National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Senate Tentatively Schedules Vote on 20-Week Abortion Ban

Senate Tentatively Schedules Vote on 20-Week Abortion Ban

July 16, 2015 — The Senate could vote on a bill (S 1553) that would ban abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy after it returns from its August recess, according to congressional aides, the Washington Examiner reports.

According to the Examiner, the Senate Judiciary Committee tentatively is scheduled to consider the bill in September. Meanwhile, the full Senate vote is expected to take place in October or earlier (Winfield Cunningham, Washington Examiner, 7/15).

Background

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced the bill in June, one month after the House voted 242-184 to pass a companion bill (HR 36).

The Senate measure is similar to the House bill. The Senate bill still would require adult rape survivors to meet strict restrictions before obtaining abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Specifically, abortion care only would be permitted if the woman receives counseling or medical care at least 48 hours before the procedure.

Meanwhile, the bill maintains reporting requirements for rape or incest survivors who are minors, allowing them to obtain abortion care after 20 weeks of pregnancy only if the incident has been reported to a law enforcement agency or social services. The bill would not provide exemptions in cases of incest for adults.

The legislation also includes provisions that would require women seeking abortion later in pregnancy to sign an "informed consent" form and make physicians who violate the legislation liable for civil action. Criminal penalties, including up to five years' imprisonment, are also permitted for certain violations (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/12).

Bill Prospects

According to the Examiner, the bill is unlikely to win the 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate (Washington Examiner, 7/15). Further, President Obama has said he will veto the bill should it gain congressional approval (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/12).