Senate introduces own version of 20-week abortion ban after house passage

(Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)Protesters demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The U.S. Senate has formally introduced a legislation banning abortions after 20-weeks of pregnancy just days after a similar measure passed the House of Representatives.

On Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), with the support of 45 GOP senators, introduced the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would penalize medical providers who perform abortions after 20 weeks of gestation with up to five years in prison or fines, or both.

Under the proposed legislation, abortion providers must receive informed consent from the woman seeking abortions certifying that she has been provided the gestational age of the fetus, a description of the law and her rights under it.

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

The legislation contains exceptions in cases of rape if the woman received medical treatment or counseling at least 48 hours before undergoing the abortion or if the rape was reported to law enforcement, The Hill reported.

Exceptions would also apply in cases when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest against a minor that has been reported to either social services or law enforcement.

On Tuesday, the House passed its own 20-week abortion ban by a vote of 237–189. A similar legislation was approved by the House in 2015, but it failed to pass the Senate.

Graham guaranteed on Thursday that the measure will be considered by the upper chamber. "I am 100 percent confident that this issue will come to the floor of the Senate because Mitch McConnell and the leaders all are behind this bill," he said.

However, the legislation is not expected to gather the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate again this year as the Republicans only hold a 52-seat majority.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), the bill's House sponsor, has called on the Senate to end the legislative filibuster to get the measure passed in the upper chamber, but Graham dismissed the idea.

President Donald Trump has issued a statement on Monday, vowing to sign the bill into law if it were to reach his desk.

The bill, which is based on model legislation developed by National Right to Life in 2010, has been criticized by Democratic senators as 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.

Similar measures are currently in effect in 16 states, namely, Ohio, Texas, Nebraska, Idaho, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Kentucky and Kansas.

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