Lifestyle & Belief

GOP-led House passes 20-week abortion ban


The US Congress building seen during a sunny November afternoon in Washington, DC, November 06, 2011. AFP PHOTO/Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)


Mladen Antonov

House Republicans passed the strictest new limits on abortion in a decade Tuesday, despite calls from within the party to move away from social issues.

Democrats called it another example of the GOP's war on women in America.

The legislation, introduced in the wake of Philadelphia late-term abortion provider Kermit Gosnell's conviction for murder, would limit almost all abortions to within 20 weeks of conception.

It passed strictly on party lines and isn't expected to be taken up by the Senate.

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House Speaker John Boehner and other social conservatives touted the bill as a means to stop late-term abortion providers like Gosnell.

But their message was muddled last week when the bill's lead sponsor, Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, drew sharp criticism for saying the "incidences" of pregnancy from rape are "very low."

House Republicans ended up having to pull him as floor manager of Tuesday's debate.

And Monday, Republican Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas said he supported the ban because he's witnessed fetuses as young as 15 weeks masturbating in the womb.

Some in the GOP have warned party leaders against a return to the women's issues that got them in so much trouble in the 2012 elections, when a GOP drive to unseat Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill was derailed after her Republican opponent, Rep. Todd Akin, uttered the words “legitimate rape” in discussing abortion policy.

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