The House of Representatives has passed overwhelmingly a bill to ban most abortions after 20 weeks.
House Republicans have done this now three times in four years. This time, however, the measure has the full support of a Republican White House.
But wait! The measure faces a dim future in the Senate, which is also controlled by Republicans. Trouble is, the Senate uses fuzzy procedural math in which a majority of 100 is not 51. It’s 60.
Republicans only have 52 senators there. Some of them are unreliably Republican on this issue, among others. So, to reach 60 under current Senate rules, the abortion ban would need to attract at least eight Democrats, probably more.
Good luck with that. The N.Y. Jets have a better chance of reaching the Super Bowl. However, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham said he plans to introduce a companion measure soon anyway.
The House bill passed 237-189.
President Trump has said he “strongly supports” the legislation and a White House statement added he “applauds the House of Representatives for continuing its efforts to secure critical pro-life protections.” Anti-abortion groups cited White House endorsement as a key sign of progress, although most abortions occur before 20 weeks.
Titled the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the House bill relies on the premise that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks of gestation. The measure says nothing about abortion before 20 weeks and does allow for exceptions after 20 weeks in the case of rape, incest or the need to protect the mother’s life.
Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List said: “It’s past time for Congress to pass a nationwide law protecting unborn children from the unspeakable cruelty of late-term abortion.”
This would not be the first time that one chamber passed a bill as a symbolic gesture to an influential part of the majority party’s base with full knowledge that the bill, in reality, was going nowhere else on Capitol Hill.