WASHINGTON, D.C., July 26, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After several weeks of speculation, Senator Marco Rubio, R-FL, confirmed this week that he wants to introduce a bill banning abortions nationwide after 20 weeks, when experts say unborn children can feel pain.
“I feel very strongly about this issue,” Rubio said. “And I’d like to be the lead sponsor on it if we can find language that we can unify people behind.”
Congressman Trent Franks, R-AZ, who authored the House version of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, told LifeSiteNews.com earlier this month that Rubio planned to introduce the Senate version but asked it be kept off the record until Rubio made a public announcement.
Rubio explained the legislation had been delayed due to the fact that he and his colleagues want to be sure the legislation’s wording is constitutionally bulletproof before introducing it.
“What we have among pro-life supporters in the Senate is a difference of opinion about: Which constitutionally enumerated power is this flowing under?” Rubio told Politico. “We just have not yet been able to come to a consensus on that.” Under law, Senate bills must specify which constitutional provision authorizes it.
The senator also left room for the possibility that someone else may eventually take the lead in championing the legislation.
“If someone else would like to do it instead of me, I’m more than happy to consider it,” Rubio said. “But I’d like to be the lead sponsor.”
Rubio, who is expected to be a top contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, had been expected to announce his intention to sponsor the bill since three weeks ago, when he told press outlets that he had agreed to do it.
If Rubio is going to introduce the bill, now would seem an opportune time. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that more than half of Americans support restricting abortion after 20 weeks. In January, Gallup found that 64 percent of Americans believe abortion should be illegal after the first trimester, and 80 percent believe it should be outlawed in the third trimester.
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It’s likely internal debate over the bill’s language will center on whether to include controversial exceptions for rape, incest, birth defects, and/or the health of the mother.
Franks’ bill was originally introduced with only an exception to save the mother’s life, but under intense media scrutiny and outcry from abortion supporters, it was amended to include exceptions for rape and incest before it passed the House in June.
Pro-abortion critics of the proposed ban argue that excluding such exceptions amounts to forcing victims of crimes or illness to give birth against their will. But pro-life legislators and activists say that the ban doesn’t go into effect until five months into a woman’s pregnancy, giving her ample time to make such a decision.
And a growing number of people conceived in rape and incest have been speaking out against the so-called “rape exception,” arguing that children like them don’t deserve the death penalty for their fathers’ crimes.
Despite popular support for more restrictions, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, has said any legislation to limit abortion will be dead on arrival in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
“The majority leader’s opposition to this puts him outside the mainstream of the American public,” Rubio said on Wednesday. “They love to cite polls all the time — and well, I don’t live by polls — but polls indicate that the vast majority of Americans believe that after 20 weeks, abortion should be limited.”
Americans’ awareness of late term abortion has heightened after the recent “House of Horrors” murder trial that saw abortionist Kermit Gosnell sentenced to three consecutive life terms in prison for severing the spines of babies who survived late term abortion procedures at his filthy West Philadelphia clinic.
Around the same time, the pro-life activist group Live Action released a series of undercover videos exposing late-term abortionists and their staff telling patients to flush live babies down the toilet and vowing not to provide lifesaving care to babies born alive after botched abortions.
According to Florida-based political analyst Jeff Henderson, “in calling for moving the abortion ban from 24 weeks to 20 weeks, Rubio has his finger on the pulse of the American electorate.”
Writing for the Sunshine State News, Henderson said Rubio should jump on the opportunity to be a hero on what he believes is a winning issue.
“Since a majority of Americans are with Rubio on this issue, it’s a chance to use one of Democrats’ favorite tactics against them and paint them as out of touch and extremists on the issue,” Henderson wrote. “Rubio would be wise to play up his stance here as much as he can in the months to come and into the 2016 election.”