The U.S. House of Representatives voted 242-184 Wednesday to pass a bill that will ban most late term abortions after 20 weeks gestation, drawing praise from the pro-life community who have hailed it as an "important step in protecting the unborn."
Lawmakers held the vote for H.R. 36, the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" on the second anniversary of the trial of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted on three of four charges of murdering babies born alive after failed abortions. This latest bill would ban abortions after five months of pregnancy, with exceptions for rape and incest if the woman receives counseling 48 hours prior to having an abortion. In cases involving minors, abortion providers would have to alert the authorities for the girls' protection, the bill says.
Members of the House were expected to vote on the bill on Jan. 22, which was the 42nd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.The bill was stalled, however, as Republicans expressed concern about the lack of exemptions in the bill for rape and the health of the mother. Instead, House Republicans passed a bill banning federal funding for the abortion procedure save in the event of rape, incest, or life of the mother.
The passing of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act has been met with praise from pro-life advocates, who have called it "an important step in protecting the unborn".
"H.R. 36 is the most pro-life legislation to ever come before this body," House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, said on the House floor. "[The bill] reflects the will of the American people, and also reflects the contributions of many people and perspectives," said Boehner.
LifeSiteNews notes that the symbolic timing of the passage of the bill affected many pro-life leaders. The news source quotes Maureen Ferguson, a senior policy advisor with The Catholic Association, in saying, "on the anniversary of Dr. Kermit Gosnell's conviction, whose trial opened our eyes to heartbreaking realities in the abortion industry, it is fitting that the U.S. House will vote to ban late-term abortions."
"Dr. Gosnell sits in jail because his reckless incompetence led him to kill premature babies born alive, but at least 140 other late-term abortion doctors continue to legally abort 18,000 babies annually past 20 weeks by industry approved techniques like dismemberment," Ferguson noted, adding that "overwhelming majorities of Americans recognize the humanity and human rights of a premature baby, and are opposed to the violence inherent in late-term abortion."
Next, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act will next go to the Republican majority Senate and then to President Barack Obama, who in the past has threatened a veto.
"No matter how it is shouted down, or what distortions, deceptive what-ifs, distractions, diversions, gotchas, twisting of words, changing the subject or blatant falsehoods the abortion industry hurls at this bill and its supporters," said Representative Trent Franks, R-Ariz. who introduced the bill, "this bill is a deeply sincere effort, beginning at their sixth month of pregnancy, to protect both mothers and their pain-capable unborn babies from the atrocity of late-term abortion on demand."