Peter Jesserer Smith is a staff reporter for the National Catholic Register. He covered Pope Francis’s historic visit to the United States in 2015, and to Jerusalem and the Holy Land in 2014. He has reported on the Syrian and Iraqi refugee crisis, including from Jordan and Lebanon on an Egan Fellowship from Catholic Relief Services. Before coming on board the Register in 2013, he was a freelance writer, reporting for Catholic media outlets as the Register and Our Sunday Visitor. He is a graduate of the National Journalism Center and earned a B.A. in Philosophy at Christendom College, where he co-founded the student newspaper, The Rambler, and served as its editor. He comes originally from the Finger Lakes region of New York State.
WASHINGTON — After three months of deadlock within their caucus, House GOP leaders have revealed that lawmakers will vote next week on a bill to ban late-term abortions at 20 weeks on the two-year anniversary of notorious abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s conviction.
The Weekly Standard reported Friday morning that GOP House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said his caucus finally had forged a compromise on the rape and incest exception language in the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which seeks to ban abortion at 20 weeks gestation on the basis that scientific evidence shows unborn children feel pain at that age.
House leaders had originally scheduled the bill, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., to coincide with the March for Life on Jan. 22. However, leaders pulled the bill after Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., chairwoman of the Republican Women’s Policy Committee, and other GOP members objected to provisions requiring victims of rape and minor victims of incest to have reported the rape or incest to the authorities before seeking an abortion past 20 weeks.
The Register reported earlier this week that the House GOP’s radio silence over the negotiations was generating frustration amid the pro-life grassroots, as they had been put in the situation of lobbying the largest pro-life majority in decades they helped elect, consisting now of all Republicans save two pro-life Democrats, to deliver top priority legislation.
According to the details reported by The Weekly Standard, the original reporting requirement has been struck. Instead, it has been replaced with a requirement that abortionists make sure victims of rape and incest receive either medical help or counseling from a licensed therapist (not on their payroll) at least 48 hours before undergoing a late-term abortion. The Weekly Standard said other measures had been added, including informed consent requirements, protections for infants born alive, and the ability for women to sue a provider for failure to follow the law.
National Right to Life’s president Carol Tobias gave her endorsement to the compromise the House GOP worked out, and thanked GOP leaders “for not taking the easy route of gravely weakening the bill in order to facilitate a quick vote.”
“National Right to Life is deeply grateful for their determination to take the time to do the job right and do the diligent work necessary to craft strong legislation focused on the unborn child," Tobias said in a statement.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, in a statement said the decision to schedule the House vote for May 13, the anniversary of Gosnell’s conviction for the murder of three newborn children and the death of a patient at his filfth-ridden Philadelphia abortion center, was “fitting.”
“Two years ago, the barbarism of late-term abortion was brought into the national spotlight by the trial of late-term abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell. America’s eyes were opened to the horrific reality of late-term abortion, a stain on our national conscience,” she said.
Dannenfelser said that they expect Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., sponsor of the bill in the Senate, to take the leading role in advancing the pain-capable bill through Congress’s upper chamber.
This story is developing…