GOP-led panel advances national late-term abortion ban

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"The trial of Kermit Gosnell exposed late abortions for what they really are: relocated infanticide," Franks said in a statement. "I look forward to the bill's moving on to the full Judiciary Committee." 

Franks's bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks' gestation based on the premise — which is disputed — that fetuses can feel pain at that stage. It would exempt women whose lives are in danger, but not victims of rape or incest. 

A D.C.-only version failed to pass the House last year under suspension of the rules, which requires support from a two-thirds majority of lawmakers. 

Abortion-rights activists vowed to deliver a similar defeat this year. 

"It is astonishing that the Subcommittee on the Constitution would support such a clear affront to the U.S. Constitution — especially when everywhere similar laws have been challenged in the courts, they have been immediately blocked," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement.