House Passes 'Pain Capable' Bill Banning Abortion After 20 Weeks

(Photo: Reuters/Gary Cameron)The United States Capitol dome is seen down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington September 30, 2013. With a deadline to avert a federal government shutdown fast approaching, the U.S. Capitol was eerily quiet on Sunday as Republicans and Democrats waited for the other side to blink first and break the impasse over funding.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that bans most abortions after 20 weeks' gestation, based upon the time in a pregnancy that its scientifically provable that a baby can begin to feel pain.

In a largely party-line vote of 237 to 189 on Tuesday, the House approved H.R. 36, which criminalizes abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest, and health of the mother.

"As for the narrowly divided Senate, where passing abortion-related bills can be harder than in the House, the legislation might not get floor time anytime soon," reported CNN.

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(Photo: Congressman Trent Franks press photo)Congressman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.)

Also called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, HR 36 was introduced in January by Republican Sen. Trent Franks of Arizona.

"It is the purpose of the Congress to assert a compelling governmental interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain," reads Section 2 of the legislation.

"Congress has authority to extend protection to pain-capable unborn children under the Supreme Court's Commerce Clause precedents and under the Constitution's grants of powers to Congress under the Equal Protection, Due Process, and Enforcement Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment."

Although similar legislation has passed Congress only to fail because of opposition from then President Barack Obama, the Trump administration has pledged to sign the bill.

In a statement released Monday, the White House's Office of Management and Budget said that the President Donald Trump "strongly supports" the legislation.

"The bill, if enacted into law, would help to facilitate the culture of life to which our nation aspires," the Trump administration said.

"Additionally, the bill would promote a science-based approach to unborn life, as recent advancements have revealed that the physical structures necessary to experience pain are developed within 20 weeks of fertilization."

Pro-Life groups like the Family Research Council celebrated the decision, saying that the bill "conforms law to modern science."

"Now with a pro-life president in the White House, it's heartening to see the country move beyond the outdated Roe v. Wade science of the '70s," said FRC President Tony Perkins.

"Ignoring modern science is harmful to unborn children, since we know babies can also survive as early as 22 weeks after gestation. The horrific pain for these unborn children being ripped apart limb by limb must be stopped."

Pro-choice groups like the Center for Reproductive Rights have denounced the vote, labeling HR 36 "unconstitutional" and a danger to "women's health."

"This bill strips women of their autonomy while showing extreme disregard for their lived experiences and the unique circumstances they may face during a pregnancy," stated CRR Senior Policy Director Maya Rupert.

"No gestational ban has ever survived this judicial scrutiny. The Senate should refuse to consider this harmful and blatantly unconstitutional bill."

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