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As Senate Vote Looms, Groups Call for Urgent Action to Stop GOP's 20-Week Abortion Ban

"The bill does not contain exceptions for health, proving that anti-abortion extremists do not actually care about our health. They never have."

At the Women's March in 2017, protesters carried signs emblazoned with the words "Trust Women" and demanded access to abortion care for all women. (Photo: NARAL/Flickr/cc)

Reproductive rights groups denounced Senate Republicans on Monday as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell advanced a bill that would ban abortion care after 20 weeks, and called on the Senate to recognize repeated Supreme Court decisions affirming a woman's right to have an abortion.

"This is yet another attempt to undermine women's health and decision making that won't stand up in a court of law, or in the court of public opinion," said Nancy Northrup, head of the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement. "This bill is both unconscionable and unconstitutional. We urge the Senate to reject this legislation."

On Twitter, NARAL Pro-Choice America called on supporters to demand that their senators vote against the bill as it advances to the Senate floor on Monday night.

Following the House's passage of the so-called "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" (H.R. 36) in October, the Senate is expected to hold a procedural vote on the bill on Monday.

If passed, the legislation would prohibit doctors from providing abortion care after 20 weeks, at the risk of up to five years in prison. The ban contains only narrow exceptions for victims of rape or incest, but forces women seeking abortions after surviving these crimes to file police reports and undergo a 48-hour waiting period before receiving care.

Abortions provided after the 20th week of pregnancy are often the result of testing that is completed between 18 and 20 weeks, that has found fetal congenital abnormalities or complications.

A pregnant woman's health can be compromised after 20 weeks as well, with chronic conditions including diabetes often worsening and creating complications for both maternal and fetal health.

Particularly considering that abortions after 20 weeks are often completed for health reasons, abortion rights groups argue, conservatives' continued efforts to ban the procedure are clearly aimed at controlling women's access to a necessary part of women's healthcare.

"Anti-choice politicians in Congress continue to prove that the only thing they can agree upon is denying women access to safe, legal abortion care," Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, said in a statement. "There are many reasons why a woman might need abortion care after 20 weeks, and she should be able to make that decision with those she trusts. Instead, this bill would deny abortion care to a woman even if her healthcare provider determined that an abortion was her best medical option."

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