Senate Fails To Ban Abortion After 20 Weeks

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The Senate voted 51–46 on a bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks on Monday night, failing to reach the required 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster. The bill was supported by the White House and passed the House of Representatives in October, and would have imposed penalties including fines or up to five years in prison on doctors who perform abortions after 20 weeks.

Three Democrats—Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana—voted with 48 Republicans to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which was introduced by South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham (pictured above with right-wing Family Research Council president Tony Perkins).


Two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, joined 44 Democrats in opposing it. The three other Republican women in the Senate—Joni Ernst of Iowa, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Deb Fischer of Nebraska—all voted to pass the bill. Three Senators—Democrats Bill Nelson of Florida and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and Republican John McCain of Arizona—didn’t vote. (Nelson and Baldwin are both up for re-election in 2018.)

Including its passage in October, the bill has passed the House of Representatives three times since 2013. In 2015, the Senate tried to pass the same legislation, but fell short by six votes; Murkowski and Democrats Mark Warner of Virginia and Patty Murray of Washington abstained from that vote, but all voted to block it today. On the floor today, Murray said it was a “politically-motivated bill that is engineered to hurt women.”


“It is disappointing that despite support from a bipartisan majority of U.S. Senators, this bill was blocked from further consideration,” President Donald Trump said in a statement following the vote. “Scientific studies have demonstrated that babies in the womb feel pain at twenty weeks. The vote by the Senate rejects scientific fact and puts the United States out of the mainstream in the family of nations, in which only 7 out of 198 nations, including China and North Korea, allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.”

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights think tank, such claims that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks have been largely unproven, and just over one percent of all abortions are performed after 20 weeks. “This bill was nothing more than another attempt by Republicans in Congress to control women’s personal health care decisions,” Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said in a tweet following the vote.