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Congressional Republicans Renew Calls to Outlaw Later Abortion Care Procedure

Christine Grimaldi

A House Republican's "dismemberment abortion" ban relies on junk science about fetal pain. He equated the common abortion care procedure with “violence against children.”

Congressional Republicans’ latest effort to criminalize a common medical procedure used after miscarriages and during second-trimester abortions isn’t likely to proceed before the end of the year.

But that’s not stopping them from trying.

Nearly a year after Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced his “dismemberment abortion” ban in the U.S. House of Representatives, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) recently followed suit with an identical version in the U.S. Senate. The National Right to Life Committee copycat legislation targets the dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedure commonly used in second-trimester abortion care.

Smith told Rewire in an interview that his office “worked very closely” with Lankford on the legislation.

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Lankford proposed the anti-choice measure without much time left on the congressional calendar. The few days that remain have seen House and Senate leaders preoccupied with a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government beyond September 30, and a fight over contraception restrictions in a long-overdue Zika funding package.

The former Baptist youth minister remains optimistic that lawmakers will include the legislation on their agenda.

“It’s always a good time to fight for unborn children and introduce legislation that supports life,” a Lankford aide told Rewire in an email. “There are still [three] more months of work for this Congress and the American people expect them to continue working,” although Congress will not be in session for that full time.

Lankford’s office did not say whether he would push to include the bill in the CR. Smith hadn’t seemed to consider that option until Rewire asked about it.

“We’ll take that under advisement,” Smith’s chief of staff quipped from behind him.

Smith, for his part, called on President Obama, “a humane man,” to learn what goes into the D and E abortion procedure, even though he once called Obama the “abortion president” on the House floor. He has relied on junk science about fetal pain in speaking out against the D and E procedure, which he equated with “violence against children” to Rewire.

Should the bill fail to proceed by the end of the year, Smith said it would be reintroduced in the 115th Congress, which begins in January.

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