Under the Dome

20-week abortion ban to get vote in U.S. House Wednesday

Back in January, U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers withdrew her support for a 20-week abortion ban bill and took a lot of criticism from constituents for it. The Republican leadership yanked the bill after Ellmers and others voiced objections. Now a revised version is up for a vote in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

HR36 would ban abortions at 20 weeks or later except when necessary to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape, or when the victim is a minor in a case of incest. The original bill required that exceptions for rape or incest would only be allowed if law enforcement authorities had been contacted.

Ellmers officially withdrew her support for the bill on Jan. 20. A few days earlier, she was quoted as telling Republicans at a retreat that she had urged the GOP House leadership not to bring the bill up for a vote during the week of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the annual march in Washington by abortion opponents. Ellmers told the National Journal she thought the bill would cost support among young people.

She and several other Republican women were concerned that the measure didn’t account for the fact that many rapes are never reported.

The delay of the major abortion legislation ended up being an embarrassment for the GOP leadership. Over the last few months, House Republican leaders gave assurances that the bill would come to a vote, but this is the first time a vote has been scheduled.

It allows for an abortion after 20 weeks in cases of rape where an adult has received counseling or medical treatment. In cases when the victim is a minor, the rape or incest must have been reported to authorities or a government office that handles child abuse and neglect.

The bill also requires that when abortion after 20 weeks would be permissible in these cases, a physician would be required to perform the procedure in a way that would give the child the best chance to survive, and a second physician trained in neonatal resuscitation would have to be present.