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House GOP approves sweeping anti-abortion bill

Associated Press

Congress' most restrictive anti-abortion bill in a decade easily passed the Republican-led House of Representatives late this afternoon, with a 228-196 vote. The outcome, which was not a surprise, largely fell along party lines -- all but six Republicans voted for it, all but six Democrats voted against it.

Rachel will have plenty more on this on tonight's show.

In the meantime, it's worth noting that the bill, a legally-dubious proposal to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, led to a lively debate on the House floor.

Debate on the bill was tense on the House floor from the start, when Democrats asked why Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) -- who does not sit on the bill's committe of jurisdiction -- was managing the bill. Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said it is acceptable under the rules of the House to allow "appropriate" people to manage the bill.

But several Democrats suggested it's because the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), made the controversial comment last week that rape usually doesn't result in pregnancy. Franks is on the Judiciary Committee, but he never spoke about his own bill during the hour-long debate.

They also said it was because Republicans have no women on the committee of jurisdiction and wanted to put a woman's face on the bill; Republicans never answered that charge.

Democrats said the lack of any input from women on the committee showed in the final product, and argued that the final bill is based on faulty science.

In the end, it didn't matter that the bill is unconstitutional; it didn't matter that its supporters' talking points were inconsistent with the available science; it didn't matter that the bill has no chance of becoming law.

What mattered is that House Republican leaders felt the need "to satisfy vocal elements of their base."