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House Republicans Pass 20-Week Limit on Abortions

Update Date: Jun 18, 2013 09:30 PM EDT

The Republican-controlled US House of Representatives passed legislation on Tuesday that would ban late-term abortions, but it's unlikely to ever become law.

The vote was 228-196, with six Democrats and all but six Republicans voting for the measure. The bill would exempt women who are victims of rape or incest as long as they first report the crime to authorities. However, it has no chance of becoming law with Democrats controlling the Senate and the White House threatening to veto it.

The measure, which would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the medically disputed theory that fetuses are capable of feeling pail. However, whether fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks is still hotly disputed. But it's been used as a justification to pass similar bills in multiple states over the past several years.

Republican Representatives Virginia Foxx of North Carolina and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee helped manage debate on the bill. Foxx emotionally urged her fellow lawmakers to pass it.

"We wanted to have as many women voices speaking to the bill," said Arizona Republican Trent Franks, who wrote the legislation. Franks suggested that pro-choice advocates were trying to undermine efforts by diverting attention away from the substance of the bill.

"They have said it's all men. They haven't addressed the bill directly," he told reporters before votes were cast.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Tuesday brushed off the idea that the bill would harm his party's standing with women, Talking Points Memo reported.

"No," he told reporters. "Listen, after this Kermit Gosnell trial and some of the horrific acts that were going on, the vast majority of the American people believe in the substance of this bill, and so do I." Boehner was referring to the conviction of a Pennsylvania abortion doctor for murdering live-born babies.

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