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Senate to vote this month on 20-week abortion ban

(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo)A woman holds a sign in the rain as abortion rights protestors arrive to prepare for a counter protest against March for Life anti-abortion demonstrators on the 39th anniversary of the Roe vs Wade decision.

The U.S. Senate is reportedly preparing to vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which aims to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

According to the Washington Examiner, pro-life groups are pushing for the vote to take place on the same day as the March for Life rally, which will be on Jan. 19 this year.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced the bill in October just two days after the House passed a similar measure.

"I don't believe abortion, five months into pregnancy, makes us a better nation," Graham said at the time.

"America is at her best when she's standing up for the least among us, and the sooner we pass this legislation into law, the better. We are on the right side of history," he added.

If passed, any person who performs or attempts an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy could be punished with five years in prison, fines or both.

The bill contains exceptions in cases of rape if the woman had reported the incident to the police or had received treatment or counseling at least 48 hours prior to the procedure. It also contains exceptions if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest against a minor.

The measure would also require abortionists to submit annual data to the National Center for Health and Statistics about abortions performed after 20 weeks.

Prior to the House vote in October, President Donald Trump said in a statement of administration policy that his team would recommend that he sign the bill into law if it reaches his desk.

However, the bill is not expected to pass as it will need at least 60 votes in the Senate as Republicans only hold a 52-seat majority. In 2015, a similar legislation was passed by the House, but it was blocked by Democratic Senators.

The measure has been a top priority for pro-life advocates who argue that unborn babies begin to feel pain at 20 weeks gestation. Although the bill is not expected to pass, pro-life groups are still hoping that the vote will force the conversation during the election year to clarify candidates' stances on abortion later in pregnancy.

In October, Democratic Senators have expressed their objection to the bill, saying it is extreme and harmful.

"I hope Senate Republican leaders make the right choice — commit not to bring this extreme, harmful legislation up for a vote — and start sending a message to the people across the country looking to us for solutions that Congress is putting them first, not partisan politics," said Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Health Committee.

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