US Senate votes against 20-week abortion ban bill
[JURIST] The US Senate [official website] on Tuesday voted against [official roll call] a bill [HR 36 materials] that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. Supporters of the bill, which needed 60 votes but only received 54, contend that fetuses begin to feel pain around this time in the gestation period. All but two Senate democrats voted nay. The vote was an attempt by Republicans to have a vote on an abortion related bill in anticipation of a government funding fight that many fear could lead to another government shutdown. Republican Senator Ted Cruz [official website] is leading other Republicans to block any government funding bill that does not cut federal funding from Planned Parenthood [advocacy website].
Abortion related issues have been a heated topic of discussion for the past several years in the US. Earlier this week the US House of Representatives approved [JURIST report] the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015, a bill that would cut all federal funding to women’s healthcare provider Planned Parenthood. However, the bill most likely will not become law, as it is expected that the Democrats in the Senate will filibuster the measure and President Barack Obama would most likely veto the bill. In August Planned Parenthood filed a complaint [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, alleging that Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s termination of Medicaid provider agreements for the facility violates a federal law that requires Medicaid beneficiaries to have a choice in provider for family planning. Also in August the Alaska Superior Court struck down [JURIST report] a state law it says would have unfairly burdened low-income individuals by limiting Medicaid funding for abortions. Also last month the US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee lifted [JURIST report] a temporary restraining order that limited the state in enforcing new abortion laws regarding licensing standards for clinics. In July Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed into law [JURIST report] the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, limiting the ability of a woman to seek an abortion more than 20 weeks into her pregnancy.
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