A majority of the U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted to advance the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill that would have restricted abortion to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy - but it still did not pass the Senate.
On a near party-line vote, a minority blocked consideration of the bill.
In all, 54 senators (51 Republicans and three Democrats) voted to take the bill up for debate, but 60 votes were required to defeat a Democratic filibuster. The motion was opposed by 42 senators (two Republicans and 40 Democrats), with four senators absent (one Republican and three Democrats).
The bill would extend federal protections to unborn children who have reached 20 weeks fetal age (22 weeks of pregnancy), with the exception of children conceived by rape or incest or if abortion would save the mother's life.
The legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives for the second time on May 13, by a 242-184 vote.
The bill, which was originally introduced in the House by Congressman Trent Franks two years ago, was developed from model legislation offered by National Right to Life in 2010. Similar laws have been enacted in 12 states.
The Senate companion bill, S. 1553, is sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC, and co-sponsored by 45 other Republican senators, including fellow presidential contenders Ted Cruz, R-TX; Rand Paul, R-KY; and Marco Rubio, R-FL.
It was opposed by presidential candidate Bernard Sanders, a Vermont independent who describes himself as a socialist and is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. In some polls, he leads Hillary Clinton.
Polls show a majority - up to two-thirds of Americans - support the bill, with young people and women more likely to back the bill than other Americans.
The National Right to Life Committee urged senators to support the bill, writing a letter to members before the vote.
National Right to Life President Carol Tobias said on Tuesday that "Today's majority vote is not a defeat, but a stepping stone towards victory."
Tobias, who wrote a paper challenging "media myths" about the bill, said, "One-fourth of premature infants now survive when born at this stage – and there is strong evidence that they experience great pain, as they are torn limb from limb in late abortions."
Here's How Your Senator Voted:
|Not Voting - 4|
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