20-Week Abortion Ban (2015)
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.
Chief Sponsor: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) plus 45 original cosponsors
Chief Sponsor: Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) plus 0 original cosponsors