Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, told THE WEEKLY STANDARD Friday afternoon that she will manage the floor debate on a bill that would prohibit most abortions during the final four months of pregnancy. The bill has been revised to include exceptions for when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. The bill already included an exception for when a physical health condition puts the life of the mother at risk.
"I think the reason that leadership asked me to handle the bill is the amount of pro-life work that I've done throughout my years in Congress," said Blackburn, a co-sponsor of the bill. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, has been unfairly attacked by Democrats and some journalists for the past two days for making a factual comment about the "incidence" of pregnancies that result from rape. Franks said on Friday that he supported Blackburn leading the floor debate.
"Marsha would be a wonderful person to speak to it on the floor," Franks told Newsmax. "We do that many times where we have different people speaking to different bills. I think she would be a wonderful candidate for for that."
Blackburn said on Friday that Nancy Pelosi's recent comments on late-term abortion were "absolutely abhorrent." At a press conference, Pelosi was unable to explain the difference between the killings of Kermit Gosnell and late-term abortions and called the issue "sacred ground."
"The war on women is these crimes committed by Kermit Gosnell and some of these abortion clinics," Blackburn told me.
"I think the American people are with us on this," Blackburn said. "Sixty percent of all Americans say abortion should not be allowed in the second trimester and over 80 percent say they shouldn't be allowed in the third-trimester."
The bill will be amended through a self-executing rule to include an exception for abortions later than 22 weeks of pregnancy (20 weeks after conception) in the case of rape or incest. Unlike the Democratic amendment for an exception in the case of rape that was voted down on Wednesday, there will be a reporting requirement in the bill.
Though the bill's authors originally found such an exception unnecessary, given how late in pregnancy the restriction would begin, Democrats would have had an opportunity to force the issue to the forefront through a motion to re-commit.
The bill's supporters believe the reporting requirement is necessary so the exception will not turn into a loophole. Democratic congresswoman Nita Lowey of New York has, for example, told her constituents to lie about being raped in order to get a taxpayer-funded abortion through Medicaid. "This is self-regulation," Lowey told the Boston Globe in 1993. "I would tell my constituents: Send a letter. Say you were raped. Say it was incest. Say you have heart disease."
A floor vote on the bill is expected next week in the House of Representatives.