White House backs bill criminalizing abortions after 20 weeks

A House bill banning abortions after 20 weeks on Monday received the official backing of the Trump administration.

The White House “strongly supports” the Republican efforts to “secure critical pro-life protections” and believes “America’s children deserve the stronger protections” that the bill would provide.

“The bill, if enacted into law, would help to facilitate the culture of life to which our Nation aspires,” the statement said. “Additionally, the bill would promote a science-based approach to unborn life, as recent advancements have revealed that the physical structures necessary to experience pain are developed within 20 weeks of fertilization”

Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks is sponsoring the bill and it is scheduled to come up for a vote on Tuesday in the House.

The bill would criminalize abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, introducing fines and jail sentences - up to five years – for those who perform or attempt an abortion.

The measure would not penalize women seeking abortions after 20 weeks and would allow the procedure in the case of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.

Pro-choice groups have come out in staunch opposition to the bill, calling it “cruel” and “unconstitutional.”

"20 week abortion bans are: unpopular, unconstitutional, part of the agenda to ban ALL abortion,” tweeted Planned Parenthood.

The Guttmacher Institute's director of public policy, Heather Boonstra, wrote in an op-ed for The Hill, saying the bill’s claim that unborn children can feel pain after 20 weeks “is not supported by the preponderance of scientific evidence.”

She also slammed the bill’s "particularly callous and cruel rape and incest exceptions" that require women to wait 48 hours and have two doctor visits with two different abortion providers before being allowed an abortion.

A similar bill passed the House back in 2015 but was later blocked by Senate Democrats, The Hill reported.

The new abortion bill is likely to pass the Republican-majority House but it might face opposition in the Senate where the rules require larger majority – meaning Republicans would need to sway at least eight Democrats to pass the bill.