House GOP Will Try Again on Late-Term Abortion Bill

A measure that was pulled after a revolt by Republican women will return with new language.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) listens during a news conference for the launch of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus on Capitol Hill on September 15, 2011 in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Daniel Newhauser
Add to Briefcase
Daniel Newhauser
May 8, 2015, 12:20 p.m.

House Re­pub­lic­ans will vote this week on a con­tro­ver­sial bill to lim­it late-term abor­tions, tak­ing a second pass at le­gis­la­tion that was pulled from floor con­sid­er­a­tion this year over con­cerns that it was in­sens­it­ive to wo­men who be­come preg­nant as a res­ult of rape.

At the time, many House wo­men and mod­er­ates com­plained to GOP lead­ers about a pro­vi­sion re­quir­ing wo­men to re­port the rape to law en­force­ment of­fi­cials to be eli­gible for a late-term abor­tion. Pro­ponents of the bill, however, ar­gued that without the lan­guage, wo­men could falsely claim they were raped in or­der to get an abor­tion.

As a com­prom­ise, new lan­guage that will be re­vealed as soon as Monday will re­move the re­port­ing re­quire­ment and re­place it with a two-day wait­ing peri­od. Abor­tion pro­viders would have to en­sure the rape vic­tim re­ceives med­ic­al treat­ment or coun­sel­ing at least 48 hours pri­or to per­form­ing the pro­ced­ure a spokes­man for Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Kev­in Mc­Carthy.

(RE­LATED: A Look at Late-Term Abor­tions, State by State

Yet Mc­Carthy’s of­fice would not an­swer Fri­day wheth­er the lan­guage also in­cludes changes that some Con­gress­wo­men were seek­ing on abor­tions in the case of in­cest. The ori­gin­al bill only al­lowed minors who be­come preg­nant through in­cest to be eli­gible for a late-term abor­tion. Rep. Ren­ee Ellmers, who has been out­spoken in op­pos­i­tion to the rape re­port­ing re­quire­ment, told Na­tion­al Journ­al last month that she be­lieved the re­sur­rec­ted bill opened up the pro­ced­ure to wo­men of any age who be­come preg­nant as a res­ult of in­cest.

If that change is not in­cluded in the new bill, it is un­clear how it will be re­ceived by Ellmers and oth­er mem­bers who have been crit­ic­al of the ori­gin­al meas­ure. Ellmers was not avail­able for com­ment by press time.

Still, sev­er­al mem­bers lauded the changed le­gis­lat­ive text, in­clud­ing Reps. Di­ane Black, Vicky Hartz­ler, and the bill’s spon­sor, Rep. Trent Franks.

“I am so grate­ful to all who have worked so hard to craft lan­guage that will now unite the pro-life base in a pos­it­ive and ef­fect­ive way,” Franks said in a state­ment. “This pro­pos­al is sub­stan­tially stronger than the ori­gin­al bill, and it places the fo­cus back upon pro­tect­ing moth­ers and their in­no­cent little pain-cap­able ba­bies, from the be­gin­ning of the sixth month un­til birth.”

The bill is ex­pec­ted on the House floor Wed­nes­day, co­in­cid­ing with the two-year an­niversary of the con­vic­tion of Ker­mit Gos­nell, a Phil­adelphia doc­tor was found to have per­formed scores of il­leg­al late-term abor­tions un­der de­plor­able con­di­tions and killed at least three live-born ba­bies. Two days after his con­vic­tion, he was sen­tenced to life in pris­on.

To tie in­to the an­niversary, the bill in­cludes pro­vi­sions deal­ing with in­fants born alive dur­ing an abor­tion pro­ced­ure, an in­formed con­sent form for wo­men seek­ing late-term abor­tions, and a right of civil ac­tion against abor­tion pro­viders who do not fol­low the law, as first re­por­ted by The Weekly Stand­ard.

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