The Trump administration has craftily taken advantage of this miserable news day to officially back a House bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks. The vote will be held on Tuesday.
The Office of Management and Budget quietly released a statement today announcing that it “strongly supports” the bill, called H.R. 36 or the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, sponsored by Arizona Representative Trent Franks. The statement says:
The bill, ifenacted into law, would help to facilitate the culture of life to which our Nation aspires.Additionally, the bill would promote a science-based approach to unborn life, as recentadvancements have revealed that the physical structures necessary to experience pain aredeveloped within 20 weeks of fertilization. The United States is currently out of the mainstreamin the family of nations, in which only 7 out of 198 nations allow elective abortions after 20weeks of pregnancy. America’s children deserve the stronger protections that H.R. 36 wouldadvance.
The bill is predicated on the idea that “After 20 weeks, the unborn child reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human, for example, by recoiling.” This stands at odds with the position of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which agrees with the findings of a British study that “the fetus does not even have the physiological capacity to perceive pain until at least 24 weeks of gestation.” The ACOG has also written that “[s]upporters of fetal pain legislation only present studies which support the claim of fetal pain prior to the third trimester,” which is an inaccurate presentation of available research.
Limited exceptions to the ban will be made for rape, incest or to save the life of the woman. But as Planned Parenthood points out, 20-week bans criminalize doctors, politicizing care in a way that may prevent providers from explaining a full breadth of a woman’s options.
The bill will likely pass the Republican-majority house for a second time—it was last passed in 2015, though it was ultimately blocked in the Senate. This time, it will require 60 votes to pass that chamber, though Republicans hold only 52 seats and most Democrats oppose the bill, The Hill reports.
Trump has said he will sign the bill if it passes Congress.