Lawmakers vote on a controversial issue in an effort to keep seats.
Story by Gabby Ponds
Abortion is a tricky subject to discuss among peers and lawmakers alike. Sometimes, those on both sides of the argument latch onto the information that best supports their beliefs. Now, Republicans have gained the upper hand in this debate.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, also known as Micah’s Law, was passed in the House of Representatives by a 237 - 189 vote on October 3rd, 2017. The very next day, the bill was sent to the Senate. Micah’s Law was introduced by Arizona Representative Trent Franks, and is named after five-year-old Micah Pickering who was born 20 weeks into his mother’s pregnancy. As an infant, he received intensive care and was then able to continue development on his own. Brought to Washington, D.C. on September 26, 2017, Pickering was used as an example by pro-life lawmakers to illustrate how one can still thrive despite being in the womb for just 20 weeks.
Once this bill reaches President Trump’s desk, any doctor that performs an abortion on a woman who is more than 20 weeks pregnant can be fined, sentenced to five years in prison, or both. However, the woman seeking the procedure will not be prosecuted.
All three Republican congressmen that represent the 78705 zip code, including Representative Michael McCaul, Representative Roger Williams, and Representative Lamar Smith, voted for the passage of this bill.
Congress has yet to pass any major legislation and the reasoning is not something that we can pin on Trump. With a Republican majority in the House and Senate and 2018 quickly approaching, Congress has chosen to address an issue that some believe should be left alone. According to the Huffington Post, “It’s a perfect fundraising and theatrical opportunity for both parties, even though most voters will find the spectacle outrageous”.
However, this is an issue that a number of congressmen and women will be able to receive support for. Many Republican lawmakers are going to fight to get this bill passed in order avoid losing their majority. But, it might become difficult to pass in the Senate. “The Senate agenda is already packed,” government professor Sean Theriault says.
According to Theriault, pro-life and pro-choice legislators are going to hold onto any piece of information in order to create a persuasive narrative. For example, pro-life lawmakers are voting to pass Micah’s law based on a long standing belief that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks. However, there is no definitive research that proves this claim to be true.
Overall, if this bill is able to pass, Republican legislators may continue to add more abortion restrictions to appeal to voters and donors. Thus, we could see reproductive rights continue to be picked at whenever there is a push to maintain conservative seats every other year.
Even though the bill targets doctors and not women directly, this could lead to women’s rights being tampered with more often. By scaring doctors, future generations of medical professionals may be reluctant to perform this procedure all together.
Abortion is always going to be a tricky topic to discuss. Nevertheless, it is important that lawmakers spend their energy on legislation that benefits all of the constituents that voted for them.