KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

House Rejects Bill Limiting DC Abortions

The measure, which did not get the two-thirds majority needed under special procedural rules, would have banned abortion in the District after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on a disputed notion that a fetus at that point can feel pain. 

Politico: D.C. Abortion Bill Falls Short In House
A majority of the House backed a bill to ban abortion in the District of Columbia after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but the legislation still failed to get the votes needed to pass. Rep. Trent Franks' "District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" was considered under a procedure that requires two-thirds of the House to pass. The bill fell short of that level with a final vote of 220-154 — six Republicans voted against the bill and 17 Democrats voted for the measure (Nocera, 7/31).

Reuters: District Of Columbia Abortion Bill Fails In House
The House of Representatives rejected a bill on Tuesday that would have banned most abortions in the 20th week of pregnancy in the District of Columbia. The closely watched vote marked the first time Congress has voted on legislation that would have limited abortion because of pain to the fetus (Simpson, 7/31).

The Hill: House Rejects Bill Limiting DC Abortions
Predictably, the two-thirds vote requirement doomed the bill from the start. Seventeen Democrats voted with Republicans, but the lack of more substantial support from Democrats meant that the debate and vote were more about letting both parties make political points about abortion that might play in the election, and much less about actually legislating. The 17 Democrats were also undercut by six Republicans who voted against the measure, and two Republicans who voted "present" (Kasperowicz, 7/31).

The National Journal: House Votes Down DC Abortion Bill
Anti-abortion groups used the vote to try and force the president to comment on the bill, something that has a very slim chance of happening. "The White House cannot remain silent on this.  The American people deserve to know whether the President endorses the status quo in the District of Columbia, which is abortion on demand, for any reason, regardless of the pain experienced by the unborn at this advanced stage of pregnancy, up to the moment of birth," Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement (McCarthy, 8/1).

The Associated Press: DC 20-Week Abortion Ban Falls Short In House
A bill that would ban abortions in the District of Columbia after 20 weeks of pregnancy failed to pass the House on Tuesday, but anti-abortion activists hailed the vote as a sign that their efforts ultimately would succeed. The bill was based on the disputed claim that fetuses can feel pain at a gestational age of 20 weeks or older. The National Right to Life Committee, an anti-abortion group, made the legislation its top priority on Capitol Hill this year. Nine states have passed similar measures, and a federal judge upheld a similar law in Arizona this week (Nuckols, 7/31).

The Washington Post: D.C. Late-Term Abortion Ban Fails In The House
District officials strongly opposed the bill, which they believed would usurp the city’s right to make its own laws. D.C. has clashed with both the Republican-led House and the White House over abortion, particularly since President Obama agreed to sign a ban on local-government-funded abortions in the city as part of a broad spending deal last year (O'Keefe and Pershing, 7/31).

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