A ban on almost all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy failed to advance in the U.S. Senate on January 29, as a motion to proceed with debating the bill gained only 51 votes, short of the 60 required under Senate rules. Three Democrats (Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia) voted for cloture on the misleadingly-named Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, joining most Senate Republicans, including Iowa’s Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst. Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted no, as did most of the Democratic caucus. Two Democrats facing potentially tough re-election campaigns this year–Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Claire McCaskill of Missouri–opposed the bill.
The U.S. House approved the same legislation in October on a mostly party-line vote of 237 to 189. Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04) supported the legislation, while pro-choice Democrat Dave Loebsack (IA-02) opposed it.
Nineteen states already ban most abortions after 20 weeks; Iowa joined their ranks in May 2017. Most terminations at that stage of pregnancy happen either because the mother has a serious health problem or because of a severe (often unsurvivable) fetal anomaly. Five women who have faced those difficult circumstances allowed Bleeding Heartland to share their stories last year.
I enclose below statements from some of the Iowans in Congress and background on the bill, which uses a faulty premise as an excuse to restrict women’s ability to make decisions about their own medical care.