20-Week Abortion Ban Passes House

A bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy has passed the House of Representatives and now awaits Senate action.

The House passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, 237-189, but the bill needs 60 Senate votes before moving on to the president, who has promised to sign it.

As drafted, the bill states that “by eight weeks after fertilization, the unborn child reacts to touch. After 20 weeks, the unborn child reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human, for example, by recoiling.”

“Abortion at any stage is reprehensible, but this is a good and right step toward protecting the unborn,” said Trillia Newbell, director of community outreach for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. “My hope and prayer is that we will continue to see similar legislation, that this bill will pass in the Senate and that this will begin a trajectory toward the protection of all babies beginning at conception.”

If passed into law, the bill would make it a crime to perform or attempt an abortion after 20 weeks of fetal development and could result in a fine, up to five years in prison or both. However, there are exceptions for rape, incest or to save the life of the woman.

Similar bills passed a Republican-controlled House in 2013 and 2015 but died in the Senate both times. This time could be different as the bill is a priority of the GOP and is supported by the White House.

The White House released a statement saying, “The administration strongly supports H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and applauds the House of Representatives for continuing its efforts to secure critical pro-life protections.”