Senate Blocks Federal 20-Week Abortion Ban Bill

·Contributing Writer
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Today’s vote was historic in that it was the first time the Senate had been called on to vote on a 20-week federal abortion ban, despite the measure having been raised multiple times in the House. (Photo: Getty Images)

Senate Republicans failed to secure the 60 votes needed to pass the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the measure already passed by the House that, had it been made law, would have implemented a federal 20-week abortion ban with extremely limited exceptions.

Survivors of rape and incest would be granted exceptions, but only after attending mandated anti-abortion counseling and sustaining a 48-hour waiting period. No exceptions would have been granted for women pregnant with fetuses containing debilitating, or even fatal, abnormalities.

The final vote in the Senate this morning was 54-42; Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois were the only Republicans to vote against the measure. Democrats Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia broke rank with their party and voted for the ban, though their votes were not enough to bring it into law.

Today’s vote was historic in that it was the first time the Senate had been called on to vote on a 20-week federal abortion ban, despite the measure having been raised multiple times in the House.

Related: ‘I Set Her Free’ — What One Woman Wants Lawmakers to Know About Her Late-Term Abortion

In a statement regarding this morning’s vote, Mark S. DeFrancesco, MD, President of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), said “We applaud today’s vote by the U.S. Senate opposing a ban on abortions after 20 weeks. This bill would have represented a clear blow to women’s access to needed reproductive services and was an example of gross legislative interference. Leading medical groups agree that a 20-week ban on abortion, if passed, would interfere with the patient-physician relationship at a time when women are in need of quality, compassionate care. These medical decisions should be made solely by women in consultation with those she trusts the most, including her gynecologist — not politicians.

“It is disappointing to see the ongoing attacks on women’s health at the national level. We continue to believe that medical care must be guided by sound science and by each patient’s individual needs. We will continue to work with America’s leaders in the interest of protecting women from harmful legislation.”

Many Democrats, including Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, the ranking member of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, have spoken out against Republicans forcing a vote on this bill this week despite having reached a budget resolution for the upcoming fiscal year. In a statement yesterday, Murray said, “As Republican leaders have said themselves, there is no education in the second kick of a mule — which is why it’s so disappointing that we are once again staring down a government shutdown over Republican political pandering. Let me be very clear: using shutdown threats to attack women’s health won’t work in 2015, just like shutdown threats didn’t help the Tea Party repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2013.

Related: Women Face Harder Path to Abortion as States Extend Waiting Period

“So, as Republican leaders begin a week of show votes on an unconstitutional, dangerous bill to restrict women’s health and rights, and on defunding Planned Parenthood and taking away critical health care services millions of people rely on each year, I’m calling on them once again to finally learn their lesson, drop the politics, and join Democrats to work on another bipartisan budget.

“It’s time Republicans learned that workers, families and our economy should come before politics and partisanship — and not the other way around.”

If a new budget is not approved by midnight on Sept. 30, the government will shut down, just as it did in the fall of 2013 when Republican leadership refused to initially negotiate on a budget deal that did not include defunding the Affordable Care Act (ACA). With Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as the leading voice, the tea party faction of the Republican party has said it will not agree to any budget that does not include ending all federal funding to Planned Parenthood. The majority of funding Planned Parenthood receives from the government goes towards Medicaid reimbursement.

By law, no federal funding may be used towards abortion care.

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