House GOP readies new abortion ban, states go even further

Pro-choice activists hold a vigil outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 23, 2012 in Washington, DC.
Pro-choice activists hold a vigil outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 23, 2012 in Washington, DC.
As the new Congress got underway in January, the massive House Republican majority was eager to impress the social conservatives who make up so much of the party's base. In fact, one of the first priorities tackled by GOP lawmakers this year was a bill to ban abortions after 20-weeks of pregnancy.
The proposal had deep substantive flaws, and the House knew it wouldn't become law, but Republican leaders put it near the top of the to-do list anyway -- even vowing to pass it before the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade and the "March for Life."
The plan failed miserably when GOP House members couldn't agree among themselves about the specific provision. As we discussed at the time, the ban was willing to exempt rape victims, for example, but only if they reported the rape to police -- a condition that many believed would discourage victims from seeking assistance. The whole plan unraveled.
Roll Call reports, however, that this week, it's back.

Republicans are aiming to reconsider this week the so-called "pain capable" abortion bill, which would prohibit abortions, in most cases, after 20 weeks of pregnancy. [...] Leaders haven't released the final language of the bill, but they seemingly have worked out the issues -- though it wouldn't exactly be the first time they've miscalculated where the conference is on the issue.

Remember, for House Republican leaders, this is about passing an abortion ban just to pass an abortion ban. The chamber has real work to do, but it's investing time in a measure that everyone involved already realizes won't become law. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) nevertheless considers this a priority, despite the serious problems surrounding 20-week bans in general.
For all the talk about Republicans moving past the so-called culture war, and shifting the focus away from the "war on women," we still see GOP presidential candidates going after Planned Parenthood; we still see Republicans taking steps to limit contraception; and at the state level, the campaign to curtail reproductive rights is as fierce as ever.
The New York Times published a good summary on this last week.

The 37 new rules in 11 states are part of a strategy accelerated by abortion opponents in 2011, when provisions restricting abortion access began sweeping state legislatures. More than 200 such laws have passed in the last four years, with Louisiana, Mississippi, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas leading the charge, according to Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion legal group. This year, more than 300 regulations were proposed in 45 states. And they keep coming: On Thursday, a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks was introduced in Wisconsin, where lawmakers proposed a $10,000 fine or 42-month prison sentence for physicians who break the law. These laws have had a profound effect in states like Texas, where the number of abortion clinics dropped by half because of strict regulations governing their operation.

It all of this sounds to you like a replay of the lead up to the 2012 presidential race, you're not the only one.