Boehner and Rep. Franks

First up on the new Congress’ agenda: Ban abortion after 20 weeks

On its very first day back in session, the new Congress got straight to work on the issue most important to the majority of Americans the small, vocal minority of anti-choice activists who control the Republican party: passing an unconstitutional ban on abortion. Representatives reintroduced the 20-week abortion ban that cleared the House in 2013 — and which now has a chance of making it through the Senate. ThinkProgress reports:

On Tuesday, the very first day of the 114th Congress, two lawmakers introduced a measure to ban abortions after 20 weeks, in direct violation of the protections afforded under Roe v. Wade. Reps. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) reintroduced the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the same legislation that successfully passed the House last year.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — who introduced a companion 20-week abortion ban in the Senate last year that was stalled by Democratic leadership — has already indicated that he plans to re-introduce his own measure in the next few weeks, too. Now that the Senate is GOP-controlled, Republicans are anticipating that they’ll have enough support to pass the ban in both chambers this year, helping the anti-choice community gain momentum for this particular tactic to limit reproductive rights.

In his statement on the bill, Rep. Franks said 20-week fetuses are “innocent and defenseless children who can not only feel pain, but who can survive outside of the womb in most cases, and who are torturously killed without even basic anesthesia.” As ThinkProgress flatly notes, viability is scientifically placed at 24-28 weeks, no fetus delivered at less than 21 weeks has ever survived, and research shows that fetuses cannot feel pain before viability. Meanwhile, Roe v. Wade says abortion cannot be banned before viability, which is why courts have struck down multiple state 20-week bans in recent years.

So it seems we can expect more of the same in 2015: A Congress more concerned with political posturing than passing policies that make meaningful, positive change in their constituents’ lives and an anti-choice movement with no qualms at all about lying to get what they want.

Header image credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin 

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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