The Senate blocked on Monday a proposed federal bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks, a vote that highlights the division between Democrats and Republicans.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act didn’t earn the necessary 60 votes to clear a procedural hurdle, which marked a defeat for those opposing such procedures. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had previously pledged to hold a vote on the bill, which ended up to be 51-46, The Washington Post writes.
McConnell said the legislation “reflects a growing mainstream consensus” that abortions should be banned after 20 weeks, adding that there was no reason why “this should be a partisan issue.”
He further expressed hope that Democrats in the Senate would support the bill, but only three Democratic senators did. Forty-eight Republicans voted to support the legislation.
Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski joined the 44 Democrats and independent in voting against the bill, while Senator Dianne Feinstein criticized Republicans for spending “the Senate’s time trying to turn back the clock” rather than focusing on the February 8 spending deadline. She further called the bill an “attempt to harm women by criminalizing their health care.”
Senator Angus King on Maine called such votes the “downward spiral” of the Senate and voted against the legislation because, as he says, “ninety-nine percent of abortions take place before 20 weeks, so this is a solution in search of a problem.”
President Donald Trump said it was disappointing that “despite support from a bipartisan majority of U.S. Senators, this bill was blocked from further consideration.”
The bill would have also criminalized the performance of such procedures, resulting in a potential prison term of five years, fines or both, though exceptions could be made when the life of the mother was at risk, or in cases of rape or incest, The New York Times reports.
The House passed the legislation 237 to 189 in October; three Democrats voted yes while two Republicans voted no. The public is likewise divided on 20-week abortion bans.