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Lawmakers Hold Hearing On Expanded Anti-Abortion Bill

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The bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks in D.C. and across the country, with no exceptions for rape, incest or if the mother's life is in danger.
Victoria Pickering: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vpickering/4607909002/
The bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks in D.C. and across the country, with no exceptions for rape, incest or if the mother's life is in danger.

Arizona Republican Trent Franks has tried for some time to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in the District. This year, he once again introduced his "District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act." But in the wake of the recent murder conviction of Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, Franks decided to expand his legislation.

It's now aimed at restricting abortions for all women in the U.S., not just in the District. Franks says he's optimistic about the bill's chances. The House Judiciary Sub-committee held a hearing today to discuss the bill.

"The votes are clearly there," he says. "I think it even would pass in the Senate if it got a fair vote."

The bill doesn't offer any exclusion for rape, incest or if the mother's life is in danger. The hearing's panel consisted of all male representatives.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton was scheduled to testify because the bill singled out D.C., but opted out after the bill was expanded nationally. She says this new national effort shows that Franks was always trying to use D.C. women as pawns.

"That was about going after the reproductive rights of women nationally using the District as a vehicle," she says. "Now of course, they're doing it straightforward, which only increases the chances of defeat of their bill."

While Franks expanded his legislation nationally, a companion bill in the Senate is focused solely on restricting abortions in the District.

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