By Elise Viebeck - 05/17/13 07:42 PM EDT
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) will offer a bill to ban late-term abortions in response to the gruesome case of Kermit Gosnell, an abortion provider recently convicted of killing three viable infants.
The bill will criminalize abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the disputed premise that fetuses can feel pain at that stage.
In a statement, Franks compared late-term abortions to Gosnell's killing of three infants born alive after failed abortion procedures. The conviction took place Monday.
"Had Kermit Gosnell dismembered these babies before they had traveled down the birth canal only moments earlier, he would have, in many places nationwide, been performing an entirely legal procedure," Franks said.
The case, notable for its grisly details, received attention from congressional Republicans starting in late April.
Greater media coverage followed after the GOP accused journalists of avoiding a difficult story about abortion.
Franks is a leading opponent of abortion rights in the GOP-led House, known for his bills to ban sex-selective abortions and late-term abortions in D.C.
His forthcoming legislation promises to create a major fight between House Republicans and supporters of abortion rights, who argue that prohibiting abortion before fetal viability is unconstitutional.
The bill could pass the House but has little chance in the Democrat-led Senate.
Franks will revise his measure next Thursday at a hearing of the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, which he leads.
A previous version of the D.C. ban exempted women whose lives are in danger but not victims of rape or incest.