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Revised Abortion Legislation Clears House

On May 13, the House approved, 242-184, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36, see pp. 4-12). The House was to consider an earlier version of the bill in January. However, that measure was pulled from floor consideration after several Republicans voiced concerns that language in the bill regarding instances of rape and incest was too restrictive (see The Source, 1/23/15).

As amended, the bill, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), would prohibit abortions at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother. The legislation would require physicians to determine the age of the fetus or “reasonably rely” on the determination of another physician. In determining the age of the fetus, the physician would be required to perform medically reasonable tests and exams and make inquiries of the pregnant woman.

The measure requires the physician to ensure that adult rape victims receive medical treatment or counseling at least 48 hours before the procedure. This provision would not apply if the victim previously reported the crime to law enforcement. The previous version of the bill required adult rape victims to report the crime to law enforcement. In cases of rape or incest of a minor, the crime must be reported to child protective services or law enforcement before the abortion.

The legislation creates a civil right of action for women and guardians of minors against doctors who fail to comply with the law; doctors who violate the law would face a maximum of five years in prison, fines, or both. The bill also includes provisions that “strengthen the provision of care for the unborn child if the child is born alive.”

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