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Late-term abortion ban fails in Senate


WASHINGTON—The Senate rejected an effort to prohibit late-term abortions Jan. 29, assuring the United States would maintain for now one of the world's most radical policies on the procedure.

Senators voted 51-46 to bring the Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act, S. 2311, to the floor but fell short of the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture, as it is known, and proceed to a roll call on passage. The bill would ban abortions on babies 20 weeks or more after fertilization based on scientific evidence that a child in the womb experiences pain by that point in gestation.

In October, the House of Representatives approved its version of the legislation, and the White House issued a statement saying it "strongly supports" the proposal.

The demise of the bill—which the Senate also rejected in 2015 after House passage—means the United States remains among the seven countries in the world that permit elective abortions after 20 weeks. The other six from among 198 countries are Canada, China, Netherlands, North Korea, Singapore and Vietnam, according to the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute.

Pro-life advocates again grieved the Senate's refusal to protect unborn children in the last half of pregnancy but vowed to continue the fight for the sanctity of human life.

"The fact that a vote over whether or not it should be legal to snuff out the lives of 20-week-old babies could not even pass a procedural hurdle in the United States Senate should be shocking to the conscience," said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

"What some members of Congress who would vote against such a measure have been wrong to assume is that Americans will, given enough time, simply get over their convictions about abortion," Moore told Baptist Press in a written statement. "That is not going to happen. Not only that, but the church of Jesus Christ always has stood and always will stand for life at every stage. The reborn will stand for the unborn, and we're not going anywhere."

More than 15,000 abortions are performed each year in the United States after 20 weeks, the Centers for Disease Control estimated in a 2008 study. At least 275 clinics perform abortions past 20 weeks, according to the National Right to Life Committee.

While efforts at the federal level have been unsuccessful, 16 states have enacted pain-capable abortion bans, according to NRLC. They are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated Idaho's law in 2015. (BP)

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