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Senate Democrats block late-term abortion ban

By Shawn Price
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Senate Democrats on Tuesday blocked a late-term abortion ban bill that would have made it illegal in most cases to have an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill passed the House but failed in a 54-42 Senate vote, with two Republicans voting against and three Democrats voting in support of the bill. Sixty votes were needed to pass the bill, which Democrats had vowed to filibuster.

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The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act was seen as a largely symbolic measure to allow abortion rights opponents to make their views known during the heated debate about federal funding of Planned Parenthood, which could lead to a possible government shutdown Oct. 1.

If passed, the bill would have been similar to those already passed in 11 states, and would have banned abortions later than 20 weeks, except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk.

Democrats Robert Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Viriginia voted with Republicans for the bill. Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois voted against it.

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"We in this chamber are never going to agree completely on the abortion question," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said before the vote. "But we should at least be able to agree that if an unborn child has reached the point where he or she can feel pain, that child's life deserves protection."

Planned Parenthood said the attempted ban would only make things more difficult for women.

"Passing this law would put women in unimaginable situations -- needing to end a pregnancy for serious medical reasons, but unable to do so," said executive vice president Dawn Laguens.

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