Yesterday, the very first day of the 114th Congress, House Republicans renewed their fight against abortion rights in earnest. Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) reintroduced a measure, called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, that would ban abortions after 20 weeks.
"I would call this an outright ban on really critical health care that women need," Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, told us. "[The Republicans] have got their priorities all wrong. They should be thinking about how to improve health care in this country — [not about how] they can wrest this decision away from a woman and her doctor."
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act first cleared the House last year but stalled in the Senate. It's expected to come to a vote in both the House and the now-GOP-controlled Senate this term.
The act is a "fetal pain" measure, so-called because of its basis in the scientifically disputed belief that fetuses can feel pain in the second trimester of pregnancy. Now, 16 days away from the 42nd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, this proposed abortion ban is a direct challenge to that ruling, which guaranteed women's rights to abort up to the point of fetal viability. (That's at around 24 weeks — not 20.) Nine states have managed to pass legislation that effectively prohibits abortion after 20 weeks; now, the Republicans have made this ban a national possibility.