20-Week Abortion Ban (2015)

S. 1553 H.R. 36

The Feminist Majority OPPOSES this Bill.

In a blatant attack on Roe v. Wade, anti-abortion Republicans in Congress have yet again introduced the deceptively titled, Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, to ban abortions at 20 weeks. This bill is based on the unfounded notion that a fetus is able to feel pain 20 weeks into the pregnancy. There is no scientific evidence to support this claim.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled twice that 20-week abortion bans violate the U.S. Constitution and infringe upon Roe v. Wade, which recognizes the right to an abortion before viability, generally at 24 weeks.

House Republicans were set to vote on the bill, H.R. 36, in January 2015, but were forced to pull it after several Republican women raised objections concerning reporting requirements for rape and incest survivors. After making only minor changes, and despite continuing to create barriers to abortion care for survivors of rape and incest, House Republicans voted to approve the ban in May 2015. The Senate has not yet voted on the companion bill.

H.R. 36 would:

  • Ban abortion at 20-weeks.
  • Force survivors of rape or incest, who are under 18 years old and who are seeking abortion care, to report the crime to authorities.
  • Force survivors of rape or incest who are 18 years of age and older to seek medical care or counseling at least 48 hours prior to having an abortion. To comply with this requirement, the survivor would have to receive prior medical care and counseling from a provider other than the one providing the abortion. The survivor also could not receive these prior services from a provider in the same facility where abortions are performed.
  • Require rape and incest survivors to provide documentation to the abortion provider showing that they met the medical or counseling care or reporting requirements before they can get an abortion.
  • Ban abortions even when a pregnancy endangers the health of a pregnant woman. The bill provides no health exception, and includes a narrow exception to save the life of a pregnant woman.


Violations of the ban could lead to fines and/or imprisonment for up to five years. Women who obtain abortions after 20 weeks, and parents of minors who have received abortions after 20 weeks, may also file civil action suits for compensatory and punitive damages.

The bill would also require providers to report all abortions performed after twenty weeks and the location of the abortion. There is no provision to protect the safety of abortion providers even though clinic doctors and staff continue to experience severe harassment, threats of bodily harm, and violence. According to the Feminist Majority Foundation 2014 National Clinic Violence Survey, nearly 20 percent of clinics reported experiencing severe violence, including stalking, facility invasion, and blockades, and more than half of all clinics reported experiencing targeted intimidation and threats against doctors and staff.

Click Here for the list of Current Senate Co-Sponsors

Click Here for the list of Current House Co-Sponsors


Status Update

Introduced in the Senate
Read the first time. Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under Read the First Time.
Read the second time. Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 230.
Motion to proceed to consideration of measure made in Senate. (consideration: CR S6798)
Cloture motion on the motion to proceed to the measure presented in Senate. (consideration: CR S6798; text: CR S6798)


Status Update

Introduced in the House
Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
Rules Committee Resolution H. Res. 38 Reported to House. The rule provides for one hour of debate on each measure. The resolution waives all points of order against consideration of the bills. The resolution provides that the bills shall be considered as read. The resolution waives all points of order against provisions in the bills. The resolution provides one motion to recommit per bill.
Rule H. Res. 38 passed House
Referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice
Rules Committee Resolution H. Res. 255 Reported to House. Providing for consideration of H.R. 36.
Considered under the provisions of rule H. Res. 255
Provided for consideration of H.R. 36
DEBATE - The House proceeded with one hour of debate on H.R. 36
Ms. Brownley (CA) moved to recommit with instructions to the Committee on the Judiciary
Floor summary: DEBATE - The House proceeded with ten minutes of debate on the Brownley (CA) motion to recommit with instructions. The instructions contained in the motion seek to require the bill to be reported back to the House with an amendment to stipulate that the underlying bill would protect both the health and life of the mother.
The previous question on the motion to recommit with instructions was ordered without objection
On motion to recommit with instructions Failed by the Yeas and Nays: 181 - 246
Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection
On passage Passed by recorded vote: 242 - 184, 1 Present (http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2015/roll223.xml)
Received in the Senate