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White House Vows to Veto Late-Term Abortion Bill

The White House has vowed to veto legislation to block abortions at 20 weeks or later with exceptions for the life of the mother, rape or incest.

Rep. Trent Franks' (R-Ariz.) Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is due on the House floor for consideration Thursday.

"More than 18,000 'very late term' abortions are performed every year on perfectly healthy unborn babies in America. These are innocent and defenseless children who can not only feel pain, but who can survive outside of the womb in most cases, and who are torturously killed without even basic anesthesia," Franks said when he introduced the bill Jan. 7. "Many of them cry and scream as they die, but because it is amniotic fluid going over their vocal cords instead of air, we don't hear them."

In its veto threat, the Office of Management and Budget said that basis for the bill is "scientifically disputed."

"The bill disregards women's health and rights, the role doctors play in their patients' health care decisions, and the Constitution," said the veto threat. "Furthermore, the provision that requires rape and incest survivors to report the crime to a law enforcement agency or child welfare authority in order to have access to an abortion after the 20-week mark demonstrates a complete disregard for the women who experience sexual assault and the barriers they may face in reporting. Research indicates that the majority of survivors have not reported their sexual assaults to law enforcement."

The legislation includes exceptions if "the abortion is necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, but not including psychological or emotional conditions," or if "the pregnancy is the result of rape, or the result of incest against a minor, if the rape has been reported at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency, or if the incest against a minor has been reported at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency or to a government agency legally authorized to act on reports of child abuse or neglect."

"The Administration is continuing its efforts to reduce unintended pregnancies, expand access to contraception, support maternal and child health, and minimize the need for abortion," the OMB said. "At the same time, the Administration is committed to the protection of women's health and reproductive freedom and to supporting women and families in the choices they make."

Franks noted earlier this month that late-term abortion "has its defenders, but no true or principled defense."

"I would just deeply encourage all interested parties, including fair-minded reporters, to simply read this bill," he said. "It is one all humane Americans can support if they understand it for themselves."