By Diana Pearl
Big news for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (or perhaps better known as Trent Franks' abortion bill): Yesterday, the bill passed through the House of Representatives by a vote of 228-196. This legislation challenges the current "deadline" for abortions — 24 weeks to 20 weeks — thanks to the bill's lead sponsor, Arizona representative Trent Franks. According to Franks, new science proves that a fetus can feel pain before the 20-week cut-off.
Franks came under fire for his claim last week that the bill didn't need an exception for rape victims, because the "incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy (is) very low," a statement which got him sidelined. Before its passing, the bill was amended to allow exceptions in the cases of rape, incest of a minor, or possibly fatal danger to the mother.
In terms of scientific proof, the Republicans are pulling from an unexpected source: masturbation. Republican Rep. Michael Burgess (and OB/GYN in his pre-Congress days) claimed that male fetuses put their hands between their legs, signaling masturbation. "If they feel pleasure," Burgess said, "Why is it so hard to believe they can feel pain?"
The legislation's opponents have little to worry about in the long run: Despite the fact that the bill has made it this far, it is improbable that it could make it to the world of legality. Even if the bill passes the Senate (practically impossibile due to Democratic control), President Obama has already said that he'll veto it. Stay tuned to Marie Claire for updates on the bill's future.
Diana is a producer at ELLE.com. She previously wrote for MarieClaire.com. Diana is a Syracuse grad and a Chicago native, and therefore a pro at dealing with cold weather. She's also an Anglophile, which means she love all things British—especially Downton Abbey, London, and Will and Kate (and Prince George!)
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