Social conservatives had a huge win on Capitol Hill late Wednesday night when the House passed the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which would ban abortions across the nation after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This date is particularly important to the pro-life movement, as it marks the second anniversary of the conviction of the abortionist Kermit Gosnell who was involved in blatant infanticide and the negligent murder of a patient. The bill went to the House earlier in January, near the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, but failed to make it to a vote.
The House had previously failed to vote on this bill because of its restrictions regarding cases of rape, incest, and other sexual abuses. Female GOP lawmakers, in particular, led the charge in this fight. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) was the most vocal in “protesting language that requires a rape victim to formally report her assault to police to qualify for an exemption from the legislation’s abortion restrictions.” According to Dr. Susan Berry at Breitbart, “the version of the bill voted on Wednesday instead requires abortionists to ensure that rape victims receive medical treatment or licensed counseling 48 hours prior to the abortion procedure.” Cases of rape and other abuses require a special care that cannot be legislated to fit every case, but it is up to us as a culture to fight against these evils and provide a loving scenario for the victims–mother AND child.
The bill has now returned to the Hill with a few modifications and has been passed with a vote of 242-184, with four Democrats voting for it and four Republicans voting against it. Pro-life leaders across the nation, such as President of Students for Life Kristen Hawkins and President of the Susan B. Anthony List Marjorie Dannenfelser, have expressed joy over this. However, they still remain reserved over the major battles left to fight in the war against death culture.
Charles C. Camosy at The Atlantic believes the bill will die in the Senate. “Conventional wisdom is that the bill will be killed in the Senate. Democrats will likely vote against the bill in lockstep, and the Republican majority alone cannot overcome a filibuster—much less a veto.” This is practical political thinking at its core. It’s going to take far more than passing a bill in the House to make a dent in the abortion industry. Dennenfelser, as quoted in U.S. News, claimed that “It is a starting point. There is a direct route to very quickly — it involves a presidential election — to pass this legislation.”
It almost makes sense to let the bill fail at this point in the election cycle, even though the GOP holds a strong majority in the Senate. Camosy clarifies this point:
The GOP has every incentive to allow the bill to fail in the Senate because, when it does, it will have a familiar pitch to offer National Right to Life, the Susan B. Anthony List, and other pro-life groups: “Please, just support our candidates against the moderate Democrats who voted against the bill for 2016, and we promise to bring it up again after we have more members in the Senate.”
Even if there was a turnaround in this congressional season, the bill would undoubtedly receive a veto from President Obama. He promised to veto the January version of the bill, and revealed in a press conference in the past week that he “strongly opposes” the bill, saying that it actually places the government between a woman and her doctor, something that many conservatives should tend to oppose.
This ban at 20 weeks seems to be pro-life advocates’ focus at the moment. Ten states already have this in place, with South Carolina, Wisconsin, and West Virginia forming legislation for future terms. With this new project, pro-life advocates have also been battling the privileges given to abortion clinics, notably Planned Parenthood, as well as medical abortion, better known as the abortion pill.
The charge to end abortion in our generation is alive and well. A bill like this could save an unprecedented amount of lives, but it’s up to Washington–and, ultimately, up to us as voters next year–to decide if that’s what we want for the country.