TN Congressman pushes anti-abortion bill, wins in U.S. House - WKRN News 2

TN Congressman pushes anti-abortion bill, wins in U.S. House

Marcia Blackburn Marcia Blackburn

Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn is now the face of an anti-abortion bill making its way through Washington.

The Tennessee representative managed the debate held Tuesday afternoon for HR 1797, one of the most restrictive anti-abortion bills to hit the U.S. House floor in 10 years.

"We are taking an action that will enable so many children to enjoy that first guarantee, that guarantee to life," Blackburn told House members.

Since the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973, woman have been allowed to get an abortion up to the point where a fetus is viable, or developed enough to survive outside the mother's womb.

Current law does not provide a specific timeframe; however, common standards dictate abortions can be performed anytime prior to 24 weeks past conception.

The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would ban late-term abortions 20 weeks past conception.

It claims a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks, excludes cases of rape or incest if the crime is reported, and also excludes cases where the mother's life is at risk.

"Delivered or not, babies are babies, and they can feel pain by at least 20 weeks," said Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

"We have more and more evidence that life does indeed begin at conception," added Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO). "Everyone talks about the right to choose, but no one discusses the implications of that choice."

The proposed bill gained momentum following the arrest and conviction of Kermit Gosnell, a Pennsylvania doctor who delivered and killed live babies during multiple abortion procedures in his Philadelphia clinic.

Blackburn was assigned to be the face of bill after the bill's sponsor, Arizona Congressman Trent Franks, came under fire for comments about the number of rape-induced pregnancies. The assignment put Blackburn under fire.

"The Republican men who brought this bill to the floor, despite the parade of our women colleagues on the House floor today, do not represent the voices of women in America," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).

Blackburn and other supporters held tight to claims that a 20-week-old fetus can feel pain, and late-term abortions have the potential to hurt mothers and unborn children.

"We are the people who make the laws in our society," said Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). "And therefore, we have the duty to protect the inalienable right to life of every individual, both the mom and the unborn baby."

Opponents fought back.

"This bill is unconstitutional," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), who lead the debate for the opposition.

"This bill would deny care to women in the most desperate circumstances," added Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

In a more spirited rebuttal, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) asked, "Do we want to go back to the time when women are running into back alleys?"

The debate was watched closer to home, too.

"This is a blatantly unconstitutional attempt to limit women's access to abortion services," said Jeff Teague, President of Planned Parenthood of Middle & East Tennessee.

Teague told Nashville's News 2 he wasn't surprised lawmakers renewed the decades old debate, but he'd prefer they focus on other issues.

"Physicians know best how to care for their patients, and I think it's best that they be left to make those decisions and to make those recommendations for their patients without politicians being involved," he said.

The House passed the bill by a vote of 228-196. However, the fate of the bill appears dismal. The Senate has yet to pick it up, and the White House has threatened a veto.

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