Republicans control the House of Representatives, but Democrats control the Senate, which is unlikely to consider the bill. The White House is threatening to veto it if it gets that far, Reuters reports.
But House Republicans' passage of the bill, while largely symbolic, may still have political consequences.
Response to Abortion Doctor's Conviction
The proposal by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) aims to capitalize on public outrage surrounding Kermit Gosnell, according to Reuters. He's the Philadelphia abortion doctor who was convicted last month of first-degree murder of three babies, and involuntary manslaughter of a patient who died of a drug overdose while undergoing an abortion in his clinic.
But abortion rights groups argue a "relentless campaign to outlaw abortion will encourage more criminals like Kermit Gosnell," said NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue.
The legislation, called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, directly challenges the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade. That case legalized abortion until a fetus could viably survive outside the womb.
Generally, a fetus is considered viable at 22 to 24 weeks. The House abortion bill, however, would bar abortions at 20 weeks into pregnancy.
The White House
In its veto threat, the White House made it clear that President Obama would not tolerate a significant scaling back of abortion access in the United States.
The Statement of Administration Policy stated, "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."
A NARAL spokeswoman told The Washington Post she's confident the Senate won't pass the House abortion bill, as 40 Senators are "solidly pro-choice." But with some pro-choice Senators up for re-election this year, that could "tip the vote on any future anti-choice bills in the other direction."
- The House abortion bill likely won't make it into law. But it still matters. (The Washington Post)
- Roe v. Wade Survey: Do You Know What It's About? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Arkansas Abortion Ban Passed is Sharpest Challenge Yet to Roe v. Wade (FindLaw's Courtside)
- Plan B Age Limits Will Be Lifted: Justice Dept. (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)