Today, H.R. 3803, the "District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," failed to pass the House of Representatives. This legislation would have banned abortions in the District of Columbia starting at 20 weeks after conception. The bill did not contain any health exceptions, including psychological threats to a woman's life, nor did it provide for exceptions in cases involving incest or rape. Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) released this statement following the House vote:
"I am pleased that the House of Representatives voted down the "District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.' As the United States continues to struggle through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, House Republicans have decided to fill our calendar with divisive legislation focused on social issues. Rather than focusing on job creation efforts, my colleagues sought to impose their beliefs on the District of Columbia.
"This legislation would have further undermined women's constitutional reproductive rights, and spurned women's health in favor of an ideologically driven agenda. At times, serious and potentially dangerous complications can arise during pregnancy. The bill did not include any exceptions for women who were the victims of incest or rape, but rather mandated that doctors focus exclusively on the health of the fetus. By disregarding these real world implications of pregnancy, this abortion ban would have put some women in real danger.
"Not surprisingly, this legislation is opposed by the nation's leading civil rights organizations, including Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, the Center for Reproductive Rights, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Abortion Federation, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Catholics for Choice.
"In addition, this legislation was an affront to the citizens of the District of Columbia, who lack equal representation in Congress. In 19 of the last 23 years, Congress has used the appropriations process to impose restrictions on women's reproductive rights in the District of Columbia. These efforts have severely limited reproductive-health options to women, and have disregarded taxpaying citizens' right of self governance in the District of Columbia.
"It is time for Congress to stop treating women and residents of our nation's capital as second class citizens. I urge my colleagues to quit playing politics with women's health and refocus their attention on getting the economy on sound footing."