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US House passes 20 week abortion ban

4 October 2017

  
Speaker Paul Ryan said: "These unborn babies are feeling pain. They suffer. That is really hard to hear and really hard to say." Image: AFP

The president has said he would sign it, but it's unlikely to pass the Senate.

Yesterday, the US House of Representatives passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The Act includes exceptions for rape and incest, and when the mother's life is at risk, and would target doctors who perform late term abortions, not women who procure them. It passed by a vote of 237 for and 189 against, largely on party lines. 

"Facilitate a culture of life"

"These unborn babies are feeling pain. They suffer. That is really hard to hear and really hard to say," said House Speaker Paul Ryan.

The White House released a statement saying that the administration, "strongly supports H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and applauds the House of Representatives for continuing its efforts to secure critical pro-life protections...The bill, if enacted into law, would help to facilitate the culture of life to which our Nation aspires."

Science of pain

"Additionally," the statement says, "the bill would promote a science-based approach to unborn life, as recent advancements have revealed that the physical structures necessary to experience pain are developed within 20 weeks of fertilization." Opponents of the bill disputed the science, claiming that babies do not feel pain until 24 weeks, or later. 

Do babies feel pain in the first trimester? New study shows incredible nerve development

Similar bills have come before the House in the past, but it is the first time that such a move has had the support of the president. However, it is still thought to be unlikely that it will pass through the Senate, where the Republicans control only 52 of the 60 seats needed for the required supermajority.

News in brief:

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