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Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act 2015 (H.R. 36)

This law was last updated on Oct 29, 2018

This law is Anti–Choice




HR 36


Failed to Pass


Jan 6, 2015


Primary Sponsors: 2
Total Sponsors: 2


20-Week Bans

Full Bill Text

This bill would ban abortion at 20 weeks or more in all 50 states.

A physician would be required to determine the “probable post-fertilization age” of a fetus prior to performing, or attempting to perform, an abortion.

The bill states that an abortion performed after 20 weeks must be performed in a manner that provides the best opportunity for the “unborn child” to survive unless termination of the pregnancy in that manner would pose a greater risk of death of the pregnant woman or the substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions of the pregnant woman than another available method.

An individual who performs, or attempts to perform, an abortion in violation of the provisions of this bill would be subject to a fine, a prison term of up to five years, or both. Women upon whom an abortion is performed would be exempted from prosecution.

The bill includes legislative findings based on junk science that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks.

As reported by RH Reality Check:

Major medical groups such as the American Medical Association and the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agree that the fetal nervous system isn’t developed enough to feel pain before the third trimester.

Doctors who testify to the contrary have a well-documented history of making false statements on behalf of the anti-choice movement, such as Dr. Byron C. Calhoun, who testified before the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 in favor of a 20-week abortion ban.

Medical Exception

Abortion would be permitted if, in reasonable medical judgment, it is necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition arising from the pregnancy, not including psychological or emotional conditions.

The bill does not contain a health exception.

Rape/Incest Exception

The original version of the bill states that abortion would be permitted if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest against a minor, and the rape or incest has been reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

An amendment to the bill would permit abortion if the pregnancy is the result of rape against an adult woman and at least 48 hours prior to the abortion, she received counseling or medical treatment for the rape. The counseling cannot take place at an abortion clinic.

The amendment would also permit abortion if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest against a minor and the rape or incest has been reported to law enforcement or a government agency legally authorized to act on reports of child abuse.

The exception does not apply to adult victims of incest.


Similar to S. 1553.

Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced HR 36 on the first day of the 114th congressional session. A similar bill (HR 1797) passed the U.S. House of Representatives during the 113th congressional session and was referred to Committee in the Senate on June 19, 2013, but the measure stalled in the Democratically-controlled Senate. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is expected to re-introduced the Senate version of the bill during the 114th congressional session. That bill may pass now that the Senate is Republican-controlled.

UPDATE: On January 21, House Republicans canceled the vote on this bill after several GOP Congresswomen pulled their support for it. (Source.) The bill is expected to make it the floor later during this congressional session.

UPDATE 2: On May 13, House Republicans passed HR 36 with an amended exception for rape and incest that requires a rape victim to get counseling 48 hours prior to the abortion.


Primary Sponsor