NARAL condemns 'outrageous' Iowa abortion law

Abortion-rights supporters are denouncing an "outrageous" Iowa law that will require the governor to personally sign off to pay for abortions with state Medicaid funds.

The law, signed by Gov. Terry Branstad (R) on Thursday, requires the governor's office to approve each reimbursement from the state's Medicaid program to hospitals or clinics that provide abortions in cases of rape, incest, fetal anomaly or when the life of the mother is at risk.

“Women in Iowa already face so many barriers in trying to get safe, legal abortion care," NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said in a statement on Friday. "Now their governor will be deciding personally on a case-by-case basis, whether a woman’s doctor will be paid for providing a legal, medically appropriate, and constitutionally guaranteed procedure."


OVERNIGHT HEALTH: House passes late-term abortion ban

The House approved a national late-term abortion ban Tuesday in the strongest congressional move against abortion rights since 2003. The bill from Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) garnered 228 "yea" votes, including six from Democrats. Opposing the measure were 196 members, including six Republicans. At least one GOP member had vowed to oppose the bill because it includes exceptions for some rape and incest victims.

The Senate is expected to ignore the bill, which would ban abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy on the disputed premise that fetuses can feel pain at that stage. A previous draft applied only to the District of Columbia, but Franks expanded it nationwide in light of the recent murder trial of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortion doctor convicted of killing several infants born alive after failed abortions. The trial has received special attention from opponents of abortion rights, who argue that a late-term abortion is no different than an infant's murder.

Franks's bill has spurred controversy on Capitol Hill in the last week. During a markup on Wednesday, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee shot down several amendments to provide rape, incest and health exceptions to the ban, arguing they would be abused. The final version approved by the panel would allow only women whose lives are in danger to access late-term abortions.


OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Obama threatens to veto GOP abortion bill

The White House threatened to veto a GOP ban on late-term abortions that is expected to pass the House on Tuesday. In a Statement of Administration Policy, President Obama said the bill from Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) is an "assault on a woman's right to choose."

"Forty years ago, the Supreme Court affirmed a woman's constitutional right to privacy, including the right to choose," the statement read. "This bill is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade and shows contempt for women's health and rights, the role doctors play in their patients' health care decisions, and the Constitution."

The statement was issued Monday night, and warned that the president would veto the legislation if it came to his desk. Given that Democrats control the Senate, it is unlikely the measure will pass Congress.

Franks's bill would ban most abortions in the United States after 22 weeks of pregnancy on the disputed premise that fetuses can feel pain at that stage of development. A handful of similar statewide bans have been challenged in court.


Week ahead: Abortion bill heads to House floor

The House is expected to pass a national late-term abortion ban this week in one of the strongest congressional moves against abortion rights since 2003.

The vote on the bill from Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) is scheduled for Tuesday.

Franks offered a late-term abortion ban last year that only applied to the District of Columbia. It failed to pass under suspension of the rules, but experts do not expect a similar two-thirds threshold for passage of the new legislation, which would institute a national ban on abortion after the 22nd week of pregnancy.


Carney: Franks’s abortion comment shows ‘alarming disregard for women’

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) showed an “alarming disregard for women” during a debate on Wednesday on a bill to ban late-term abortions, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday.

Franks said "the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low" during the markup of the abortion bill. He made the comment while arguing against a Democratic amendment that would have allowed abortions for rape and incest victims after the 20th week of gestation.

Franks later clarified that he was referring to the small number of pregnancies that result from rape compared to normal intercourse. Estimates peg the number of rape-induced pregnancies in the tens of thousands every year, compared with 6.7 million million total pregnancies in 2006.

Carney said the statement "reflects an alarming misunderstanding of what is a crime and what that means."