Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) on Tuesday blasted Republicans over legislation that would ban abortions in the District of Columbia after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
“Bringing up this bill under suspension that disregards the United States Constitution is beyond brazen,” he said on the House floor. “It is time that my colleagues come clean with the American people and admit these arbitrary limitations on a woman’s constitutional right to choose are part of a broader effort. Tonight, it’s the District of Columbia. Tonight, 20 weeks is the threshold for turning a constitutional right into a crime. What is tomorrow? Ten weeks? Ten days? Where does it end?”
The Supreme Court’s 1973′s landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade upheld a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy until the fetus is physically viable outside the womb. A fetus is typically considered “viable” after 28 weeks.
But pro-life Republicans argue that abortion should be outlawed after 20 weeks of pregnancy because fetuses are able to feel pain at that point. Under the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, doctors who performed an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy could face up to two years in prison. The law would not make exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
“When they talk about competing rights, they are intent on granting even to a newly fertilized egg the constitutional rights of American women,” Deutch said. “They want to put the rights of a zygote ahead of the rights of a woman exercising autonomy over her own body.”
The bill failed in the House on Tuesday. It was voted on under suspension, requiring a two-thirds majority to be approved, but only received 220 votes.
Watch video, uploaded to YouTube by Rep. Deutch, below:
[Ed. note: Updated to reflect House vote.]