Senator Tries to Attach D.C. Abortion Ban to Senate Bill

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 2, 2012   |   11:22AM   |   Washington, DC

Following the House vote that saw a majority of members back the D.C. 20-week abortion ban (but Democrats preventing a two-thirds vote), a pro-life senator hopes to get the bill attached to a Senate bill.

House Democrats objected to a bill that would stop the policy of unlimited abortions for any reason throughout the entirety of pregnancy in the nation’s capital. The bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in D.C. needed a two-thirds vote but enough Democrats voted against the measure to prevent it from going to the Senate.

But with a majority in the House supporting the bill, if the measure could somehow get through the Democrat-controlled Senate, the House would easily approve it with a majority vote. Sen. Mike Lee, a pro-life Utah Republican, hopes to do just that.

As the Washington Times reports:

Sen. Mike Lee filed the District of Columbia Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act as an amendment to a cybersecurity bill under debate on the Senate floor. A spokeswoman for Mr. Lee said the senator decided the timing was right to file an amendment to the cybersecurity bill authored by Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent.

“The issue of prohibiting abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy is on the minds of the American people in light of [Monday’s] ruling in Arizona and yesterday’s vote in the House, which is why Senator Lee decided to attach the amendment to the cybersecurity bill,” spokeswoman Emily Bennion said.

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, invoked cloture this week to end debate on the cybersecurity bill and proceed to a vote as he and Republicans try to whittle down dozens of filed amendments and reach a compromise on their priorities — or at least publicize their political positions in an election year

Bennion said Mr. Lee is “hopeful since the House got a vote, but it all depends on Reid.”

In the House, the bill received a supportive vote of 220 to 154 with Republicans voting 203 to 6 for the bill and Democrats voting 148 to 17 against it. Republicans voting against the late term abortion ban included: Reps. Bass (NH), Biggert, Bono Mack, Dent, Dold.

The Council of the District of Columbia, employing authority delegated by Congress, repealed the entire D.C. abortion law. Thus, in the nation’s capital, abortion is currently legal for any reason through all nine months of pregnancy.

The bill, sponsored by Congressman Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican, was approved by the House Judiciary Committee In the bill, Congress adopts findings that by 20 weeks after fertilization (if not earlier), the unborn child has the capacity to experience great pain. (This is equivalent to 22 weeks in the alternate “LMP” or “weeks of pregnancy” dating system used by ob-gyns and abortion providers.) The bill prohibits abortion after that point, except when an acute physical condition endangers the life of the mother. Johnson says seven states have already enacted very similar legislation; no court orders have blocked enforcement of any of those laws.

The vote follows a new poll released by the National Right to Life Committee and commissioned by the Polling Company. The poll found 63% of all respondents, and 70% of women respondents, favor banning abortion after the point where the unborn child can feel pain. Another 58% of all respondents, and 62% of women respondents, would be more likely to vote for a Member of Congress who votes to ban abortion after 22 weeks gestation in the District of Columbia.



The bill is similar to a first-in-the-nation law the state of Nebraska passed that successfully drove late-term abortion practitioner LeRoy Carhart to move most of his abortion business to Maryland and bans abortions at 22 weeks gestation (20 weeks post-conception) due to the scientific evidence that not only do unborn children feel pain, they feel it more acutely because pain “dampeners” do not fully develop until 40 weeks gestation, and later.

Earlier this week, a federal judge upheld an Arizona bill that also bans abortions after 20 weeks based on the concept of fetal pain but then a federal appeals court issued a temporary injunction blocking it.