The Republican-controlled Ohio Senate has passed a bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. The vote came after the Wisconsin senate passed a similar bill earlier this month. The bill passed passed 23-9, and is likely to make it through the House, which is controlled by Republicans as well. The legislation contains a narrow exception for medical emergencies, but cases of rape and incest are not included. Supporters of the bill argued that fetuses can feel pain as early as seven-and-a-half weeks. There are now 14 states banning 20-week abortions, and anti-abortion groups see the 20-week ban as “the new pro-life ‘litmus test’ for Republican presidential contenders.” The ban only affects a small number of pregnancies, however, as nearly 99 percent of abortions in the U.S. take place before 21 weeks according to Planned Parenthood. Pro-choice activists believe the ban drastically misunderstands the circumstances and reasons for which women would seek a late-term abortion. “The 20-week abortion ban sacrifices the health and reproductive rights of women at their most vulnerable moment: most women targeted by this bill are suffering from medical complications with a wanted pregnancy,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.
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