House to vote next week to ban late-term abortions

House to vote next week to ban late-term abortions
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GOP leaders are scheduling a House vote next week on legislation to ban late-term abortions.

The bill was shelved in January after an intraparty dispute in which a small core of centrist lawmakers argued the bill would force rape victims to report the crimes. Several of these lawmakers also warned the vote could turn women away from the GOP. 

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Republicans announced the vote one day after a study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found that some premature babies can survive at 22 weeks.

“Science tells us that, after twenty weeks, babies can feel pain and are increasingly able to live outside the womb,” Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), one of the bill’s leading sponsors, wrote in a release, citing the study. 

The previous version of the legislation allowed an exemption for late-term abortions in cases of rape, but only if the rape had been reported to police.

That provision has been stripped from the new bill, which will instead require doctors to ensure that women seeking abortions have received either medical treatment or licensed counseling at least 48 hours prior to the procedure, according to Billy Valentine, director of government affairs for the Susan B. Anthony List, which has worked with House Republicans on the bill. 

The change seems to have assuaged the concerns of lawmakers who objected to the earlier bill, according to an aide to a lawmaker who had concerns with the original language.

House Pro-Life Caucus chairman Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.). said he is confident that those who previously opposed the bill, particularly female Republicans, will now support it.

“I know [women in our caucus] are going to be enthusiastic about this and they are already,” Smith told The Hill.

He added that the efforts to tweak the bill had been spearheaded by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Republican Conference chair, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who is the party’s top female in the House.

McCarthy worked through the bill “line by line, semicolon by semicolon” with more than a half-dozen lawmakers to reach a consensus, Smith said.

“Life is precious and we must do everything we can to fight for it and protect it,” McCarthy told The Weekly Standard. “Our commitment for the House to consider this important legislation has been steadfast and I am proud of the work of our members to prepare this bill for House consideration next week.”

In a joint release, Reps. Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksArizona New Members 2019 Cook shifts 8 House races toward Dems Freedom Caucus members see openings in leadership MORE (R-Ariz.) and Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) added that the bill creates new “protections for mothers and infants,” though they did not provide details.

“This proposal is substantially stronger than the original bill, and it places the focus back upon protecting mothers and their innocent little pain-capable babies, from the beginning of the sixth month until birth,” Franks, the bill’s lead sponsor, wrote.

The vote is set to take place around May 13, the two-year anniversary of the conviction of Kermit Gosnell, a doctor convicted of three counts of murder for killing infants who were born alive during attempted abortion procedures.

“We are thankful to our pro-life allies on the Hill, including House GOP leadership and the Congressional Pro-Life Women’s Caucus, who have tirelessly worked to bring this bill to a vote,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser wrote in a statement. 

— This story was last updated at 1:55 p.m.