The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Tuesday afternoon that Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), a darling of the anti-choice movement, had pressured a woman with whom he was having an affair to get an abortion. Hours later, Murphy was one of 237 House representatives who voted in favor of extreme anti-abortion legislation.
The bill, entitled the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” would criminalize abortions after 20 weeks based on the junk science belief that fetuses can feel pain after that point. It is sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ). Murphy is one of the legislation’s 182 co-sponsors.
The legislation passed the House 237-189. It has twice passed the House in the past.
The House just passed legislation to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, 237-189.
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) October 3, 2017
The bill has a tricky path in the Senate, needing 60 votes for cloture, meaning Democrats can and will filibuster the bill. But President Trump has said he would sign the legislation if it comes to his desk.
If the bill were to become law, abortion providers could be fined or spend up to five years in prison for providing abortions after 20 weeks, despite the fact that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says fetuses aren’t developed enough to feel pain until 24 weeks.
The bill allows for rare exceptions in the cases of rape, incest, or medical necessity.
Bans similar to the one passed Tuesday have also passed the House in 2013 and in 2015, but the legislation was blocked in the Senate.
Nonetheless, the effects of this legislation are already being felt in some places, as 20 states have already enacted 20-week abortion bans with varying narrow exceptions for extreme circumstances, according to Rewire.
Vox recently reported the story of a woman whose care was sabotaged after a crisis pregnancy center told her she was 12 weeks along when she was actually already 20 weeks into her pregnancy.
In two states, Arizona and Idaho, 20-week abortion bans were challenged in court and permanently blocked. In both cases, the judge said the law was unconstitutional and violated precedents set by the Supreme Court protecting abortion rights, raising questions about why the House is pushing the bill again now.
Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and other activists have been pushing back against the new attempt at a national 20-week ban.
“This dangerous, out-of-touch legislation is nothing more than yet another attempt to restrict women’s access to safe, legal abortion,” Planned Parenthood Action Fund said in a statement, adding that the legislation is a clear attempt to erode Roe v. Wade.
“In fact, 20-week ban proponents are outspoken about their goal to challenge the 1973 Supreme Court decision protecting a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion,” PPAF’s statement says.
— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) October 2, 2017
NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue also railed against the ban on Twitter, saying, “The House GOP’s bill to ban abortion after 20 wks is an attack on women’s freedom & our ability to chart our own futures.”
— ilyse hogue (@ilyseh) October 2, 2017
“It is a priority of the anti-choice movement to see these types of abortion bans,” Amy Friedrich-Karnik, a senior federal policy adviser at the Center for Reproductive Rights, told ThinkProgress Monday. “Providers who are in these situations where they need to provide a constitutional right that they have to help people access this care, are being threatened with jail, so it is cruel upon cruel to women seeking care and providers trying to provide it.”
This is a breaking news story and has been updated with additional information about the reaction to the legislation’s passage.