On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed legislation criminalizing abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The law, known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, includes exceptions for cases of rape, incest, or risk to the mother's life.
The bill says that abortion providers who perform the procedure on fetuses 20 weeks or older will be subject to fines, prison time, or both. It's based on the belief that, at 20 weeks, a fetus can feel pain.
"It will protect those children who science has proven can feel pain, and give them a chance to grow and live full and happy lives," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said last week as he announced the plan for today's vote. "We have an obligation to speak and defend for those who can't speak for themselves."
Yet the majority of physicians and medical organizations, like the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, assert that, based on all the available evidence, a fetus isn't capable of feeling pain until the third trimester.
The bill still needs to pass the Senate, where similar legislation failed in 2015, but President Donald Trump has promised to sign it into law should it pass Congress.