WASHINGTON, July 31, 2012 ( – A bill that would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks gestation based on the unborn child’s capacity to feel pain has failed to clear the 2/3 majority hurdle it needed to pass in the U.S. House of Representatives.

House members supported the D.C. Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act 220-154, including 17 Democrats, in the vote Tuesday evening. However, the simple majority was not enough because the measure had been expedited by House leaders. The bill had 222 cosponsors in the House.

Supporters of the bill cited extensive medical evidence showing that unborn children have developed the ability to feel pain by at least 20 weeks, and pushed the bill as an urgent remedy for the District of Columbia, which currently allows abortions for any reason through all nine months of pregnancy.

A poll commissioned by the National Right to Life Committee earlier this month found strong support for such a measure among American adults, with 63 percent of respondents in a telephone survey saying abortion should be banned after the point when a child can feel pain.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), a leading right to life advocate on Capitol Hill, said on the House floor Tuesday afternoon during debate over the bill that the measure was a “wake up call” to Americans on the reality of abortion.

“By now, many Americans know that abortion methods are violent and include dismemberment of a child’s fragile body, chemical poisoning and hypodermic needles to the baby’s heart,” said Smith. “But the relatively new scientific understanding that unborn babies are forced to endure excruciating pain in the performance of later term abortions-and perhaps even earlier-should shock us.”

Earlier Tuesday, a federal judge upheld Arizona’s own abortion ban based on fetal pain, which is set for implementation this week. Eight other U.S. states have similar bans.