Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says a bill passed by the House that would ban most abortions in the country past the fifth month of pregnancy will get a vote in the Senate and is supported by “virtually all” GOP senators.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act two days after it was approved by the House, and President Donald Trump’s administration has indicated it will sign the 20-week abortion ban into law if passed by both chambers of Congress.
“But, the House has passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Children Protection Act before only to see it disgracefully languish in the Senate without even a debate or fair up or down vote,” Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) – who introduced the bill in the House – wrote in an op-ed at Fox News.
McConnell told reporters, according to the Hill, during a joint press briefing with President Trump, the bill is “supported by virtually all of my members, and we expect to have a vote on it at some point.”
The Senate Majority Leader did not, however, provide a specific timeframe for the vote.
Franks has urged McConnell to call for a straight up-or-down vote on the bill, asserting the Majority Leader has “stunningly allowed Democrats to use arcane Senate rules to gridlock this incredibly reasonable pro-life bill just as they were determined to gridlock a pro-life justice like Neil Gorsuch.”
With only 52 GOP senators – and 60 votes needed for the bill’s approval – Republicans may be unlikely to convince eight of their Democratic colleagues to join with them to pass the measure. All 45 of the bill’s co-sponsors are Republicans. Three Democrats voted with Republicans in the House to pass the legislation.
“Mr. McConnell’s correct actions to force an up or down vote on Neil Gorsuch have demonstrated that the principled debate on this asinine 60-vote rule (that Democrats will change when they regain control) is now over,” Franks wrote.
The United States is one of only seven countries in the world that permit elective abortions past the fifth month of pregnancy, reports the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of the Susan B. Anthony List. The Trump administration cited this information in its Statement of Administration Policy on the Pain-Capable bill. In a fact-check piece on the claim, the Washington Post found the data supports it.
The Pain-Capable bill comes to the Senate as the Trump administration has released a strategic plan document for the years 2018-2022 that asserts clearly at several points that life begins at conception.
“HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception,” the document states initially.
In explaining its “Strategic Goal 1: Reform, Strengthen, and Modernize the Nation’s Health Care,” the document continues, “While we may refer to the people we serve as beneficiaries, enrollees, patients, or consumers, our ultimate goal is to improve healthcare outcomes for all people, including the unborn, across healthcare settings.”
A third mention of the administration’s mission to protect life from conception occurs in “Strategic Goal 3: Strengthen the Economic and Social Well-Being of Americans across the Lifespan.”
“A core component of the HHS mission is our dedication to serve all Americans from conception to natural death, but especially those individuals and populations facing or at high risk for economic and social well-being challenges, through effective human services,” the document states.
The Pain-Capable bill would ban most abortions in the United States after the 20th week of pregnancy, except for adult women in the case of rape – if the woman received medical treatment or counseling at least 48 hours before the abortion, or if she reported the rape to law enforcement. Minors whose pregnancy resulted from rape or incest – if the incident was reported to social services or law enforcement – may also be exempt from the ban.
“In the name of humanity and all that America stands for, Mr. McConnell must now also ensure a prompt fair up or down majority vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” Franks urges. “To do less is to allow this insidious and unthinkable carnage to continue, and to betray the very most essential hope the Party of Lincoln represents to America – and the very most helpless among us.”