House rejects D.C. abortion limits

Local,DC,Alan Blinder

The House defeated a measure that would have banned abortions in the District after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill, which needed the support of 290 members to clear the lower chamber, only garnered 220 "yea" votes Tuesday night. Of those 220 votes, 17 were from Democrats.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton praised the vote.

"Seldom does the District win a vote on the floor of the House this big," Norton said in a statement. "I am grateful that an overwhelming majority of Democrats stuck with the District and refused to cross over to be a party to this abuse of congressional power."

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., spearheaded the legislation, which he said he developed out of concern for the pain he said fetuses can feel if they are aborted after 20 weeks.

In a February interview with The Washington Examiner, he rejected the arguments from Norton and other District leaders that his proposal was infringing on local affairs.

"Home rule doesn't transcend the U.S. Constitution," he said. "They'd like to make that the issue rather than the pain of unborn children."

Even if the bill had passed the House, it would have faced difficult prospects in the Senate, which Democrats control.

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