Last week, Arizona Rep. Trent Franks (R) reintroduced a bill to criminalize abortion services in DC after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the exact same measure that failed to advance when Franks pushed it last year. And now, Utah Sen. Mike Lee (R) has introduced a companion bill in the Senate. Like Franks, Lee is no stranger to this type of abortion ban. Earlier this year, he tried to accomplish the same goal by offering a budget amendment to restrict DC women’s abortion access.
20-week bans are based on the scientifically dubious claim that fetuses can feel pain after that point — and they’re a top priority for anti-choice activists, who are intent on leveraging the emotional outrage surrounding incredibly late-term abortions to narrow the window for legal abortion services. In reality, however, late-term abortions are already very rare, representing less than one percent of all abortion services across the country. Criminalizing them ends up disproportionately hurting women in two categories: the low-income women who are forced to delay abortion while they save up the money to pay for it, and the women who discover serious fetal abnormalities later in their pregnancies.
Lee’s anti-abortion agenda is keeping him particularly busy lately. He’s also using Kermit Gosnell’s high-profile murder trial as an excuse to spearhead a Senate resolution to encourage more abortion clinic restrictions across the country.