Despite passing the U.S. House of Representatives, a bill to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy faces an uncertain future as President Obama's administration has suggested that he will veto it.
“(S)cience is on our side,” Representative Marsha Blackburn, (R- Tenn.) told MSNBC in an interview.
Blackburn joined other pro-life representatives, including Michelle Bachmann (R- Minn.) and Virginia Foxx (R- N.C.) in defending the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions 20 weeks into a pregnancy and later, based on science indicating that unborn children can feel pain by this point. Exceptions in cases of rape, incest or a risk to the mother’s life were included in the final House version of the legislation.
The House of Representatives approved the bill by a vote of 228-196 on June 18, following its passage by the House Judiciary Committee. The legislation will now advance to the Senate, where opponents have vowed to fight it.
The Obama Administration has said that should the legislation gain the approval of both the House and Senate, the president's “senior advisors would recommend that he veto this bill.”
A statement of administration policy criticized the bill, saying that it “would unacceptably restrict women's health and reproductive rights and is an assault on a woman's right to choose.”
The statement alleged that the legislation “is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade and shows contempt for women's health and rights, the role doctors play in their patients' health care decisions, and the Constitution.”
It is unclear how the Supreme Court would react to the pro-life legislation were it to be challenged as a violation of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
Pro-life advocates pointed to polls showing that the majority of Americans support restricting late-term abortions.
“May we in humility confront this national sin and may we mourn what abortion reveals about the conscience of our nation,” said Rep. Foxx.
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), who introduced the legislation, argued in a June 13 statement that “(k)nowingly subjecting our innocent unborn children to dismemberment in the womb, particularly when they have developed to the point that they can feel excruciating pain every terrible moment leading up to their undeserved deaths, belies everything America was called to be.”
“This is not who we are,” he said.
Pro-life advocates have attempted to gain support for the bill's cause, using the hashtag #theyfeelpain on Twitter.
Despite the pledged opposition from the Senate and White House, supporters are confident that the American people are becoming more aware of the reality of abortion.
Last year, a similar piece of legislation that would have applied only to the District of Columbia failed to pass the House of Representatives.
“The tide of the American conscience will only continue to shift toward life and away from dismembering unborn babies in the womb,” said Rep. Franks in a June 18 tweet.