House Passes Near-Total Ban on Abortion After 20 Weeks of Pregnancy

The U.S. House of Representatives late on Tuesday passed a new bill that would render abortions criminal if conducted after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The only exceptions would be cases where the mother's life is at risk or cases involving rape or incest.

The bill passed largely along party lines, with 237 votes for and 189 against, CNN reported.

The bill, known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, had been attempted in the House in both 2013 and 2015, but this time it has the support of the President behind it. In a statement issued Monday, the White House said it "strongly supports" the bill, "and applauds the House of Representatives for continuing its efforts to secure critical pro-life protections."

In his own statement, House Majority leader Kevin McCarthy said the new bill "will protect those children who science has proven can feel pain, and give them a chance to grow and live full and happy lives."

But opponents took a different view.

"This dangerous, out-of-touch legislation is nothing more than yet another attempt to restrict women's access to safe, legal abortion," Planned Parenthood Action Fund said in an online statement. "20-week bans are unconstitutional. 20-week bans are a clear attempt to erode Roe v. Wade."

The bill must now make its way through the Senate, but that may not happen anytime soon, CNN said. Speaking Monday, Republican Senate Whip Sen. John Comyn said a vote on the bill is "not a near-term priority."

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