The House of Representatives voted 228 to 196 on Tuesday evening to pass a bill that prohibits most abortions later than 22 weeks in pregnancy (20 weeks after conception), the point by which some infants can survive long-term if born and the point by which medical science indicates they can feel pain. The bill contains exceptions for late-term abortions in the cases of rape, incest, or when a physical health condition puts the life of the mother at risk.
It was mostly a party-line vote, with six Democrats voting for the bill and six Republicans voting against it. The White House issued a veto threat against the bill on Monday night. Though the bill stands no chance of becoming law so long as President Obama is in the White House, advocates see it as an important first step to reining in late-term abortions.
The vote comes in response to the trial of Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of murder for severing the spines of three infants moments after they were born. Asked last Thursday what the difference was between the Gosnell slayings and late-term abortions, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi couldn't answer the question:
For more on the bill and the debate over late-term abortions, see "The Lesson of Kermit Gosnell."