House Republicans make time for new abortion ban

An exam room at the Whole Woman's Health clinic, in McAllen, Texas on March 4, 2014. (Photo by Jennifer Whitney/The New York Times/Redux)
An exam room at the Whole Woman's Health clinic, in McAllen, Texas on March 4, 2014.

The Republican-led U.S. House has quite a bit to do right now. Among other things, Congress needs to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program, continue to work on its tax plan, and as House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters yesterday, "Right now, we're focused on passing our budget."

Strictly speaking, that's not entirely true -- because Ryan's members are also focused on passing a new abortion ban. The Washington Post reported:

The House on Tuesday approved a bill banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, advancing a key GOP priority for the third time in the past four years — this time, with a supportive Republican in the White House.The bill, known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, is not expected to emerge from the Senate, where most Democrats and a handful of moderate Republicans can block its consideration. But antiabortion activists are calling President Trump's endorsement of the bill a significant advance for their movement.

The roll call on the bill, which passed largely along party lines, is online here. Note that Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), an anti-abortion Republican who reportedly pressed his mistress to have an abortion after their extra-marital affair, was among the GOP lawmakers who voted for the bill late yesterday.

As for the bigger picture, if these circumstances seem familiar, there's a good reason for that.

In 2013 and 2015, House Republicans also devoted time to this bill, passing the measure despite knowing that it stood no realistic chance of success in the Senate. The same is true this year: though the upper chamber is run by Republicans, Senate Democrats have vowed to filibuster the proposal. There's no realistic scenario in which the bill garners 60 votes.

As for the substance, as regular readers may recall, because roughly 99% of abortions occur before the 21st week of a pregnancy, these later terminations often involve "rare, severe fetal abnormalities and real threats to a woman's health." It's why the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is so strongly against legislation like this.

Senate GOP leaders are likely to bring up the bill, knowing its fate is sealed, just to demonstrate to the party's base that they're trying, but no date has yet been scheduled.