Fetal pain bill fails

The legislation didn't secure the needed two-thirds majority in the House.

Published December 9, 2006 12:13AM (EST)

The fetal pain bill Broadsheet covered earlier this week was tossed out by the House on Wednesday. House Republicans did manage to secure majority support -- 250 to 162 -- but the required two-thirds margin escaped them, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The legislation -- if the bill had made it into law -- would have required abortion providers to alert women that "there is substantial evidence" that an abortion causes the fetus pain. As previously mentioned here, this "substantial evidence" is still up for heated debate. Not to mention the bill included tricky legal jargon that could have effectively paved the way for a re-classification of certain types of birth control as abortifacients. A number of pro-choice activists also argued that the legislation included anaesthesia requirements that could have effectively shut down many abortion providers' businesses. But Rep. Lois Capps spoke to what is most fundamentally troublesome about the legislation: "This sham bill is yet another partisan political ploy that misguidedly attempts to insert the government into private medical conversations between women and their doctors."

Pro-choice activists weren't exactly in agreement on the bill, though; NARAL Pro-Choice America, for instance, took a middle-of-the-road stance on the legislation. However, bill backer Rep. Christopher H. Smith was very clear about the legislation's impetus during floor debate: "Is it our hope that this [bill] may dissuade a woman from allowing her child to be killed? Absolutely."

So, loaded language aside, are we happy the bill was shot down? Absolutely.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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