House approves GOP bill banning most late-term abortions

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Republicans finally won House approval Wednesday for a late-term abortion ban after dropping rape provisions that provoked a rebellion by female GOP lawmakers, forcing party leaders into an embarrassing retreat.

The near party-line 242-184 vote marked a victory for anti-abortion lawmakers and organizations. But the path to passage took months of negotiations among those groups, female lawmakers and party leaders, underscoring how tough it will be for the GOP to satisfy anti-abortion forces while retaining support from women voters for next year's elections.

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Abortion Bill and Protests - updated to include kansas 6/25
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House approves GOP bill banning most late-term abortions
Hundreds of abortion opponents rally at the Kansas Statehouse, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, in Topeka, Kan. The rally was sponsored by Kansans for Life and marked the 42nd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion across the nation. (AP Photo/John Hanna)
Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., center, speaks during a news conference on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 13, 2015. Republicans predicted House passage Wednesday of the late-term abortion ban after dropping rape provisions that angered female GOP lawmakers and forced party leaders into an embarrassing retreat. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., listens at right. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: Anti-abortion advocates stage a 'die-in' protest at Lafayette Square near the White House January 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. In a written statement on Tuesday, the Obama administration denounced a GOP-backed bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks and suggested the President would veto H. R. 36 - Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act if the bill reached his desk. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Roy Rohn, 87, of Riverdale, Md., carries a cross that says "abort abortion" as anti-abortion demonstrators march toward the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, during the annual March for Life on the National Mall. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators are gathering in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Hundreds of abortion opponents rally outside the Kansas Statehouse and hear a speech by U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in Topeka, Kan. The demonstrators were marking the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion across the nation. (AP Photo/John Hanna)
Abortion opponents from across Kansas rally outside the Statehouse, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in Topeka, Kan. Hundreds marked the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide. (AP Photo/John Hanna)
Kansas state Reps. Stephanie Clayton, left, R-Overland Park, and Don Hineman, right, R-Dighton, talk before the House convenes to consider abortion legislation at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. on Saturday, May 30, 2015. The measure makes a technical change designed to allow the state to enforce its ban on what critics call "webcam" abortions. (AP Photo/Nicholas Clayton)
Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, follows a House debate on a bill banning a procedure described by abortion opponents as dismembering a fetus, Wednesday, March 25, 2015, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. The proposal comes from the National Right to Life Committee, which sees it as model legislation for states. (AP Photo/John Hanna)
Kathy Ostrowski, legislative director for the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life, testifies during a Kansas Senate committee hearing in favor of a bill making a technical change in a 2011 law regulating abortion clinics, Wednesday, May 13, 2015, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Supporters believe the bill will help narrow a lawsuit that's blocked the law from being enforced. (AP Photo/John Hanna)
Kansas House members, from left; Mark Kahrs, of Wichita; Steve Brunk, of Wichita, and John Rubin, of Shawnee, confer during the chamber's debate on anti-abortion legislation, Wednesday, March 25, 2015, as legislative pages wait in the background at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. The three Republicans support the bill, which bans a procedure described by abortion opponents as dismembering a fetus. (AP Photo/John Hanna)
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2013 file photo, Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback speaks during a pro-life rally outside the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Brownback, a strong abortion opponent, signed a bill Tuesday, April 7, 2015 making Kansas the first state to ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure that critics describe as dismembering a fetus. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)
Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., center, speaks during a news conference on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 13, 2015. Republicans predicted House passage Wednesday of the late-term abortion ban after dropping rape provisions that angered female GOP lawmakers and forced party leaders into an embarrassing retreat. Franks is joined by, from left, Rep. Joseph Pitts, R-Pa., Rep. Marcia Blackburn, R-Tenn., Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Tenn., Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., and Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Anti-abortion demonstrators marched through Washington Thursday in an annual event to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion. (Jan. 22)
Pro-abortion rights counter protesters hold signs as police hold a line, while anti-abortion demonstrators march past the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, during the annual March for Life. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators are gathering in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Anti-abortion demonstrators march past the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, during the annual March for Life. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators are gathering in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Pro-life and anti-abortion demonstrators converge in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, during the annual March for Life. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators gathered in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
A prayer circle forms as police guard the Supreme Court, during an anti-abortion march and rally by the Supreme Court at the annual March for Life on the National Mall, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, in Washington. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators are gathering in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Jeanne Basinger, of Linville, Va., who works in "after-abortion care," prays as she gets emotional while listening to speeches with other anti-abortion demonstrators during the annual March for Life on the National Mall in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators are gathering in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Motorcycle police escort anti-abortion demonstrators during the annual March for Life, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, on the National Mall in Washington. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators are gathering in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
US Capitol police officers line-up in front of pro-abortion rights demonstrators who temporarily halted the annual March for Life, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, at the Supreme Court in Washington. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators are gathering in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Anti-abortion demonstrators march past the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, during the annual March for Life. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators are gathering in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Lauren Sandy, 18, third from left, Afure Adah, 17, right, of Shanley High School in Fargo, N.D., and others pray as they attend an anti-abortion rally at the annual March for Life, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, on the National Mall in Washington. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators are gathering in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Rosie Mami, center, and her sister Ayleana Mami, 19, of Cullman, Alabama, right, sit on their friends' shoulders as they lead a chant about loving babies, with other members of St. Bernard Prep, as anti-abortion demonstrators rally at the annual March for Life, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, on the National Mall in Washington. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators are gathering in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Dan Ross of Washington, who is originally from Venezuela, dressed in the "armor of God" attend an anti-abortion rally at the annual March for Life, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, on the National Mall in Washington. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators are gathering in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Lauren Sandy, 18, front left, and Afure Adah, 17, of Fargo, N.D., pray as they attend an anti-abortion rally at the annual March for Life, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, on the National Mall in Washington. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators are gathering in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Anti-abortion demonstrators head towards the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, during the annual March for Life. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators gathered in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Anti-abortion demonstrators march past the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, en route to the Supreme Court during the annual March for Life. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators gathered in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Pro-abortion rights supporters hold up signs in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, as they wait for the arrival of anti-abortion demonstrators during the annual March for Life. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators gathered in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
People watch as anti-abortion demonstrators walk near the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, during the annual March for Life. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators are gathering in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Marchers gather for the an anti-abortion rally during the annual March for Life, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, on the National Mall in Washington. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators are gathering in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum stops to poses for photographs during an anti-abortion rally at the annual March for Life, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, on the National Mall in Washington. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators are gathering in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Whitney Burke, 15, from Monroeville, Pa., holds up a sign during an anti-abortion rally at the annual March for Life, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, on the National Mall in Washington. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators are gathering in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2015 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington. President Barack Obama is vowing to veto a Republican-backed bill that would ban abortions after the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, as well as a measure that would require a decision on pipeline construction within 12 months. The White House says the abortion bill is an "assault" on a woman's right to choice and "unacceptably restricts" health and reproductive rights. House consideration of the measure this week coincides with the anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Roe versus Wade that legalized abortion. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: Anti-abortion advocates stage a 'die-in' protest at Lafayette Square near the White House January 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. In a written statement on Tuesday, the Obama administration denounced a GOP-backed bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks and suggested the President would veto H. R. 36 - Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act if the bill reached his desk. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: Anti-abortion advocates stage a 'die-in' protest at Lafayette Square near the White House January 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. In a written statement on Tuesday, the Obama administration denounced a GOP-backed bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks and suggested the President would veto H. R. 36 - Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act if the bill reached his desk. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: Anti-abortion advocates stage a 'die-in' protest at Lafayette Square near the White House January 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. In a written statement on Tuesday, the Obama administration denounced a GOP-backed bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks and suggested the President would veto H. R. 36 - Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act if the bill reached his desk. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: Anti-abortion advocates stage a 'die-in' protest at Lafayette Square near the White House January 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. In a written statement on Tuesday, the Obama administration denounced a GOP-backed bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks and suggested the President would veto H. R. 36 - Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act if the bill reached his desk. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
In one of the House GOP's first chances to challenge President Obama, a controversial abortion limit never even made it out of the chamber.
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House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the bill "the most pro-life legislation to ever come before this body," adding, "We should all be proud to take this stand today."

Even with House passage, the measure stands little chance of becoming law. Its fate is uncertain in the more moderate Senate and President Barack Obama would likely veto it, leaving it chiefly a way for the GOP to underscore its backing for the anti-abortion goals of some of its most ardent supporters.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest contrasted the measure's strictures with the usual Republican demands for keeping government out of people's lives, saying, "The bill continues to add a harsh burden to survivors of sexual assault, rape and incest who are already enduring unimaginable hardship."

The legislation forbids most abortions starting with the 20th week of pregnancy.

In January, Republican leaders abruptly postponed a vote on the original version, which permitted rape victims to have abortions only if they'd reported the assault to police. The new bill instead requires those women to receive medical care or counseling at least 48 hours before an abortion.

Republican women and moderates objected that the initial bill clamped harsh requirements on women making stressful decisions and could make the GOP seem callous.

"This has a much less punitive substance to it," said Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., who said she'd now support the legislation. "It's important that when we look at the care of women who are in crisis, that we make sure they're totally taken care of."

The January delay was particularly awkward for GOP leaders because that vote was to occur during the annual March for Life by abortion opponents who flock to Washington for the event. Wednesday's vote came on the second anniversary of the murder conviction of Kermit Gosnell, a Pennsylvania abortion doctor, in the deaths of three babies killed with scissors after delivery.

To help win support from anti-abortion lawmakers, the revamped measure has new protections for unborn babies.

If an abortion doctor believes the fetus could survive outside the womb, a second doctor must be present to care for it, including taking it to a hospital. Women would also have to sign consent forms describing the fetus' age and the steps to be taken to save its life.

Republicans named the legislation the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, citing what they said is evidence that fetuses at 20 weeks can feel pain.

"It's time to open our eyes and allow our consciences to catch up with our technology," said Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., the bill's chief sponsor.

Abortion rights advocates say the measure violates women's privacy and cite doctors' groups, like the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, that have gathered evidence that fetal pain is unlikely until several weeks later.

"You want to talk about pain? Let's talk about the agony of a woman who's raped and again violated by unnecessary government intrusion," said Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla.

The 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision established a constitutional right to abortion but allowed states to bar the procedure after viability - the point where the fetus could survive if born. Disputes over when viability is reached have provoked numerous legislative battles ever since.

Forty-two states bar abortions after certain points in pregnancies, including 10 with bans at 20 weeks, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports access to abortion.

Statistics from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that of 730,000 abortions in 2011, 1.4 percent - or about 10,000 - were performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

As with the original bill, the new measure permits abortions for minors who were victims of incest if the assault is reported to police or government agencies serving targets of child abuse. It allows no exemption for adult victims of incest.

Doctors performing banned abortions would face imprisonment of up to five years plus fines. People could also bring civil actions against doctors who violate the measure's requirements.

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AP reporter Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

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