On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced that the White House backs a 20-week abortion that passed the House the same day, The Hill reported. Trump and his cabinet "strongly supports" the bill, titled the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," and "applauds the House of Representatives for continuing its efforts to secure critical pro-life protections," the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement.
The bill, sponsored by Arizona Rep. Trent Franks, would effectively criminalize any abortion performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Perpetrators would face "a fine, up to five years in prison, or both" according to The Hill. There are exceptions only for rape, incest, or in cases where the mother's life is at risk. The bill won't penalize women seeking abortions, only those who perform or attempt to perform them.
This will be the fifth time Franks is pushing this bill. Most recently, in 2015, the bill passed the House but failed in the Senate. It's a piece of legislation that is backed by very questionable science. According to a 2015 paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association, by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), fetuses cannot feel pain at 20 weeks. Only in the third trimester, at 28 weeks, would that be possible.
Trump, who ran a pro-life presidential campaign, said in a letter to voters in September 2016 that he would sign the bill into law. "Together we can form this vital coalition so that Mike Pence and I can be advocates for the unborn and their mothers every day we are in the White House," he wrote. Should the bill pass the Senate, "his advisers would recommend that he sign the bill into law," the Office of Management and Budget wrote Tuesday.
Only 11 percent of abortions in the United States occur after the first trimester, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Women generally seek late-term abortions after they’ve discovered their life, the fetus, or both, is at risk. In some cases, women with lower incomes are unable to afford the procedure any earlier than 20 weeks.
In an interview with 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl in November 2016, then President-elect Trump said that he was "pro-life" and would appoint a Supreme Court judge that was also anti-abortion, which he later did by appointing conservative Neil Gorsuch. Trump was nonchalant about abortion potentially becoming illegal at the federal level, telling Stahl, "Having to do with abortion, if it ever were overturned, it would go back to the states.” When she replied that some women wouldn't be able to get abortions then, Trump said, "They'll have to go to another state."
This is contradictory to his previous statements. For instance he identified as "very pro-choice" in the '90s. He also refused to tell New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd in 2016 whether or not he'd ever paid for or been involved with a woman obtaining an abortion. Trump even made a joke on Howard Stern's radio show in 2003 about asking his ex-wife, Marla Maples, to get an abortion when they were unexpectedly pregnant with his youngest daughter, Tiffany.
Trump's stance on abortion is hypocritical at best, and at worst it's extremely dangerous. Such strict abortion laws have proven to put women’s lives at risk. Currently, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. This number could rise should abortions after 20 weeks be banned.
The 20-week ban passed the House on Tuesday, 237-189, but needs a 60-vote majority in the Senate to win, according to Vox. However, even if it doesn't become law, the bill can still be damaging, a clinical assistant professor and OB-GYN at Stanford University, Jennifer Conti, told Vox. “By even putting this issue on a national platform,” she said, “you’re misleading the American people. You’re really providing false and dangerous information that is affecting millions of women."