During his campaign, President Trump repeatedly promised that, if elected, he would sign into law a bill banning doctors from performing abortions on women who are more than 20 weeks pregnant. On Tuesday, he came one step closer to making good on that promise, after the House voted in favor of such a bill.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which was introduced by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California), is based on “recent advancements” that supposedly show that a fetus at 20 weeks’ gestation can feel pain. The bill would make it a crime for a doctor to perform abortions on fetuses older than 20 weeks, and violators could face up to five years in prison.
The only exceptions to would be situations in which the mother’s life is in danger and cases where incest or rape was reported to government authorities.
Medical experts have refuted the claim that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks. Jennifer Conti, a clinical assistant professor and OB-GYN at Stanford University and a fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health, explained in an interview with Vox:
‘There’s actually conclusive evidence that shows that the neurologic structures in a fetus aren’t completely laid down and working yet until much further along in pregnancy, we think even the third trimester.’
Hal Lawrence, the CEO of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, also said that “the overwhelming amount of evidence” shows fetuses younger than 24 weeks have reflex activity but lack the neurological development to sense pain.
‘They can’t tell what it is. If you can’t interpret it, it can’t hurt.’
Clearly, a lack of evidence wasn’t an issue to House Republicans who voted in the bill’s favor.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) announced after the vote that he is working on a companion bill that will be introduced in the Senate. While the bill passed fairly easily in the House, its future is less certain in the Senate, where Republicans only have a 52-48 majority. Senate Democrats will be able to block the bill with a filibuster.
It’s unclear when the bill will even be considered in the Senate.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) told NBC that the bill is “not a near-term priority” because Republicans are currently more focused on tax cuts.
However, National Right to Life Committee legislative director Jennifer Popik said that her group still wants the Senate to vote on the measure because “it highlights for people across the country how extreme people on the other side are on this issue.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-New York) called the measure the GOP’s latest attempt “to pass off political posturing as proven science.”
She also said the bill was hypocritical, as Republicans have regularly tried to cut food stamps and other aid for children.
‘Pure hypocrisy. We love it until it’s born, then it’s somebody else’s problem.’
A number of other people have expressed outrage on Twitter in response to the House vote.
Featured image via Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.