House panel backs bill to ban later-term abortions

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By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House is girding for another wrenching debate on abortion after a House panel approved legislation that would ban almost all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill, named the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act", was headed for a House vote as early as next week after the Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to approve it.

Republicans, led by Trent Franks of Arizona, argued that fetuses can feel pain after five months of pregnancy, justifying a ban on later abortions.

But several recent court decisions have struck down similar state laws, saying they violate a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy before a fetus is viable.

House Republican leaders, now focused on jobs-related legislation and investigating administration scandals, have so far shown little appetite for divisive social issues.

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