On Monday, Democrats blocked a bill that would’ve banned most abortions taking place after the 20th week of pregnancy.
According to The Hill, the bill was authored by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R). Considered a top legislative priority by anti-abortion groups, the measure failed to muster the votes necessary to bypass a Democratic filibuster.
The bill, which needed 60 votes to pass on to President Trump’s office, floundered at 51-46.
Several Republican senators, including Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, defected and turned in “no” votes. Sen. Doug Jones – who recently defeated Trump’s preferred candidate in an Alabama special election – also voted against the bill.
Graham’s bill, writes The Hill, had little chance of ever making it past the Senate. While the legislation sailed through the House along party lines, Republicans hold a razor-thin 51-46 majority in Congress’s smaller chamber.
Perhaps more surprising than the conservative defectors are the handful of Democrats who opted to abstain from adding their names to the ballot. Sens. Joe Donnelly (IN), Joe Manchin (WV), and Bob Casey (PA) neither voted in favor or against the bill – a lack of action The Hill attributes to each of the three congressmen facing tough reelection bids in November.
The legislation would have made performing or attempting an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy a federal crime. While the penalties were geared toward healthcare providers, rather than women, rendering an abortion past the 20-week mark would meant prison time of up to five years, fines, or both.
Some 20 states already have similar bans, writes The Hill. Conservatives maintain that advances in science and technology mean that babies born prematurely have a better rate of survival than ever before – a conclusion backed by a report from the New England Journal of Medicine.
“We’re trying to proceed to make sure that America will be a better place, that we become part of the mainstream of the world when it comes to protecting unborn children in the fifth month of pregnancy,” said Graham.
Laws in Europe vary, but tend to allow abortions performed any time between the 12th and 24th week of pregnancy.
“It is disappointing that despite support from a bipartisan majority of U.S. Senators, this bill was blocked from further consideration,” said President Trump in a statement. “The vote by the Senate rejects scientific fact and puts the United States out of the mainstream in the family of nations, in which only 7 out of 198 [sic] nations, including China and North Korea, allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. I urge the Senate to reconsider its decision and pass legislation that will celebrate, cherish, and protect life.”