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4 of Congress’ Recent Anti-Abortion Actions, After Iowa Passes Measure

A look at Hill action after Iowa legislation passes both state chambers

Guests bow their heads in prayer near the Washington Monument during the annual March for Life on Jan. 27, 2017. Attendees march from the monument to Capitol Hill to oppose abortion. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Guests bow their heads in prayer near the Washington Monument during the annual March for Life on Jan. 27, 2017. Attendees march from the monument to Capitol Hill to oppose abortion. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Iowa state legislature this week passed a bill banning abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, one of the stricter regulations in the U.S. should the governor sign the bill into law.Dubbed the “heartbeat bill,” the legislation aims to block abortions once a heartbeat is detected, which would essentially ban the procedure for most cases after a month and a half.More lawmakers across the United States started introducing anti-abortion legislation following President Donald Trump’s election. Nineteen states instated 63 restrictions in total to abortion procedures in 2017, the highest number of state laws on the issue since 2013, according to sexual and reproductive health research organization the Guttmacher Institute.States have successfully put more roadblocks in front of abortion, but federal lawmakers have not had such luck. Here are some recent attempts by Congress to limit abortions:

20-week ban

The Senate rejected a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in January after the bill passed the House in 2017.The “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham, failed to overcome a Democrat filibuster“To those who believe in this issue, we will be back for another day,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the chief sponsor of the bill, said in advance of the vote according to the New York Times.

Defunding Planned Parenthood

Republicans passed a bill to Defund Planned Parenthood through the House, but the legislation stalled in Senate committee. The bill would have prohibited Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funds for a year unless the organization certified it would not provide any abortion services.President Donald Trump promised he would sign a bill to defund Planned Parenthood during his presidential campaign. Both Trump and the bill said if Planned Parenthood stops performing abortions, federal funding would be restored.Planned Parenthood and two other reproductive health organizations are sueing the Trump administration over new Health and Human Services guidance issued February, arguing that changes to the federal Title X program will put the health of millions of low-income patients at risk, NPR reported Wednesday.

American Health Care Act

The 2017 health care law, which partially repealed the 2010 health care law, stipulated that no federal subsidies be used for health insurance that covers abortion — a restriction that was already in place.The ACHA also further limited Planned Parenthood funding by prohibiting Medicaid funds from going to the organization. Federal funds already could not cover abortion services, but the law paused federal reimbursements for child health care, birth control and other services at Planned Parenthood.Under the law, those receiving tax credits can’t buy plans that cover abortion services, though the option to purchase separate abortion coverage is available.

Expanding born-alive infants protection

Under President George W. Bush, Congress passed in 20002 the “Born-Alive Infants Protection Act,” which extended legal protection to an infant born alive after a failed induced abortion.Last year, Rep. Marsha Blackburn introduced legislation expanding on that bill called the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.” The bill requires doctors providing abortions “exercise the same degree of care to preserve the life and health of the child as any health care practitioner would provide to a child born alive at the same gestational age.”Violators would be charged with first-degree murder.“There is little question that this bill is intended to intimidate abortion providers and drive them out of practice, and there is no objective evidence that such congressional intrusion is necessary or appropriate,” ACLU director Karin Johanson wrote in a letter to the House.

The bill passed the house 241 – 183 but now awaits the Senate.

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