The Obama administration on Tuesday threatened to veto the GOP-backed bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks, calling it a “direct challenge” to a court-protected right for women.
The House is planning to vote on the bill Thursday, the anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court abortion case, Roe v. Wade, and the same day that thousands of anti-abortion advocates will participate in the March for Life.
“Not only is the basis for H.R. 36 scientifically disputed, the bill disregards women's health and rights, the role doctors play in their patients' healthcare decisions, and the Constitution,” the White House wrote in a statement Tuesday. "If the president were presented with this legislation, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto this bill."
The White House issued nearly the same veto threat in 2013, when Republicans last tried to advance the bill. But the administration also added another concern.
Under the bill, rape survivors seeking abortions after 20 weeks would be required to report the crime to police, which the White House said “demonstrates a complete disregard for the women who experience sexual assault and the barriers they may face in reporting.”
Similar concerns have also been raised by a group of female Republicans, who warn that the clause will cost the party the support of millennials.
Democrats, led by the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, also sounded alarms about the bill’s rules on reporting rape.
“Forcing women to go on-the-record about such a traumatic experience as a prerequisite to getting help is unconscionable, and adds to the pain of women who are survivors of rape or incest,” according to a statement from the group.
About one-third of rape victims report to authorities, according to statistics from the Department of Justice.
Democrats will deliver a rebuttal to the bill on Wednesday.
A half-dozen lawmakers, including Sens. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerHarry Reid, political pugilist and longtime Senate majority leader, dies Congress can prevent another Jan. 6 by updating a key elections law First senator formally endorses Bass in LA mayoral bid MORE (D-Calif.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayCDC leader faces precarious political moment Schumer ramps up filibuster fight ahead of Jan. 6 anniversary Biden, lawmakers mourn Harry Reid MORE (D-Wash.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), will hold a press briefing on Capitol Hill to “denounce attacks on women’s health and Roe v. Wade.”
Anti-abortion advocates have heavily lobbied the newly GOP-controlled Congress, arguing that 2015 offers the best chance at new federal restrictions on abortion in years.
The bill also ran into new problems Tuesday when a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted that the bill could cost as much as a half-billion dollars in new Medicaid spending.
The CBO estimated that 75 percent of abortions that would normally occur after 20 weeks or more of pregnancy would take place earlier if the bill were enacted.
The women would did not abort their pregnancies would be more likely to lean on Medicaid, driving up federal spending by $235 million through 2025, according to the report.