An Arizona congressman said Friday he will amend a bill that would ban abortions in the nation’s capital 20 weeks after fertilization so that it applies nationwide, a bid to fight late-term abortions in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell trial in Philadelphia.
Rep. Trent Franks, a Republican, introduced the D.C. Pain Capable Unborn Protection Act in the last Congress and revived it this year, but it only applied to the District of Columbia.
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City officials have strongly protested the bill, arguing Mr. Franks was abusing the Congress’ legislative oversight powers.
Pro-District activists also protested at his congressional office in Arizona with handouts that portrayed Mr. Franks as a frankfurter.
The bill ultimately failed in the last Congress during a type of House vote that required two-thirds approval for passage.
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s non-voting member of Congress, said at the time that Mr. Franks should be brave enough to cover the entire nation with his bill instead of singling out the city.
In a statement, she said Mr. Franks’ and his GOP colleagues tried to use the District as a stealthy way to get a “federal impratur” to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that upheld abortion rights.
“However, our efforts, together with our pro-choice allies nationwide, to highlight the nationwide intent and implications of the D.C. bill brought my anti-choice colleagues unwanted national attention, leaving them unable to hide behind the D.C. bill,” she said.
The debate over late-term abortions is reaching new heights this year, after gruesome findings and testimony out of a clinic led by Mr. Gosnell resulted in murder convictions and a life sentence for the abortion doctor.
“The case of Kermit Gosnell shocked the sensibilities of millions of Americans. … Indeed, let us not forget that, had Kermit Gosnell dismembered these babies before they had traveled down the birth canal only moments earlier, he would have, in many places nationwide, been performing an entirely legal procedure,” Mr. Franks said in a statement.
The National Right to Life Committee applauded Mr. Franks’ revamped bill and said “the time is ripe to seek protection for pain-capable unborn children nationwide.”