An all-male House Judiciary subcommittee on Tuesday approved legislation that would impose a new nationwide restriction on abortion.
By a party line vote of 6-4, the House Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice approved a bill that would ban abortions nationwide after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is based on the belief that fetuses are capable of experiencing pain after 20 weeks gestation.
When Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) first proposed the legislation, it only would have covered the District of Columbia. But Franks successfully pushed for the bill to apply nationwide following the conviction of abortion provider Kermit Gosnell.
“The trial of Kermit Gosnell exposed late abortions for what they really are: relocated infanticide,” Frank said Tuesday in a statement. “I pray we use this as a ‘teachable moment,’ in the words of President Obama, and can agree that, at the very least, we are better than dismembering babies who can feel every excruciating moment.”
Opponents of the legislation argue that it is unconstitutional because of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade, which prohibits states from banning abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a similar law in Arizona’s last month.
“It is astonishing that the Subcommittee on the Constitution would support such a clear affront to the U.S. Constitution — especially when everywhere similar laws have been challenged in the courts, they have been immediately blocked,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
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