Reports are coming in from the beltway about an expected vote on a pro-life measure that is being cancelled on the evening before the vote and the day of the annual National March for Life in Washington.
From The Washington Post…
House Republican leaders abruptly dropped plans late Wednesday to vote on an anti-abortion bill amid a revolt by female GOP lawmakers concerned that the legislation’s restrictive language would once again spoil the party’s chances of broadening its appeal to women and younger voters.
In recent days, as many as two dozen Republicans had raised concerns with the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” that would ban abortions after the 20th week of a pregnancy. Sponsors said that exceptions would be allowed for a woman who is raped, but she could only get the abortion after reporting the rape to law enforcement.
The Washington Post report is pointing specifically to concerns from Reps. Rene Ellmers (R-N.C.) and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) as the reason for the delay. Oddly, Ellmers tweeted that she planned to vote for the bill hours before she was reported to have the bill pulled from the scheduled vote.
Locally, the vote was announced at the Arkansas March for Life by Rep. French Hill in his remarks to the pro-life crowd. I have reached out to Hill as well as the other three Arkansas Congressmen for any reaction to the move, but for now sources are hinting that they are in a holding pattern regarding the vote before commenting publicly.
But the pro-abortion rights group NARAL was quick to jump on the report with back-handed praise for the move.
“I never thought I would see the day that the Tea Party-led House of Representatives would wake up to the fact that their priorities—outright abortion bans–are way out of touch with the American people. The GOP drafted a bill so extreme and so out-of-touch with the voters that even their own membership could not support it,” NARAL spokesperson Christina DiPasquale chirped.
Memo to GOP House Leaders – when the pro-abortion rights groups are praising you, you are doing something wrong.
Meanwhile, pro-life groups were outraged by the news, although many are also keeping their powder dry for now. Many pro-life leaders were gathered for an event with the Susan B. Anthony List when the news broke. Needless to say, that did not go over well.
Russell Moore with the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission was one of the first leaders to react on twitter to encourage people to call their Congressional member. “Cowardly. Incompetent. Inexcusable,” tweeted Moore in reaction.
UPDATE – Several Arkansas Congressman did get back with me on the delay.
“I was frustrated to learn of the decision last night to delay a vote on a bill that I cosponsored, H.R. 36. This is a temporary setback for pro-life supporters, but I will join other like minded lawmakers as well as pro-life groups and individuals and continue to communicate the need for legislation that protects the lives of the unborn,” said Rep. Rick Crawford. “However, the House today did take up another important bill with regard to protecting the unborn. This bill, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, would prevent the use of tax-payer dollars in paying for abortions. During this week that marks the 42 anniversary of Roe v. Wade, it is especially important to remember that protecting the unborn is an issue that demands our constant, heartfelt dedication.”
Claire Burghoff from Rep. Steve Womack’s office tells me it was her understand that pulling the bill was done to “make sure the conference was continuing as a united front” but that they “expect the bill to be back on the floor in the near future, and as a cosponsor of the bill, Congressman Womack looks forward to voting on it at that point.”
Although not addressing the delay in the 20 week ban directly, Rep. French Hill praised the passage of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act as well.
“Although Americans were repeatedly told by the President that Obamacare would not include funding for abortion coverage, it has become evident that hardworking taxpayers are subsidizing abortion under the President’s health care program. Obamacare compromises Americans’ conscience rights, and today’s bill prohibits the use of federal funding to pay for abortions and bans taxpayer funding for health care plans that include elective abortion coverage. This past weekend I attended the Arkansas March for Life in Little Rock and heard from many Arkansans about the importance of speaking out for life and protecting the unborn. I am committed to passing pro-life legislation and will continue to work on a bipartisan basis with my colleagues on this important issue,” said Hill.
Meanwhile Rep. Bruce Westerman said he was disappointed in the delay and pointed to similar legislation he worked to pass on the state level in Arkansas.
“It is disappointing to me that Members are not able to vote their consciences today on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. In the Arkansas General Assembly, we fought battles to have the opportunity to give our Pain-Capable law an up-or-down vote. I was proud to stand with my constituents to bring the vote to the floor, to pass it, and override a partisan veto. I look forward to having those same opportunities to stand with my constituents in this Congress. I strongly urge leadership to give Members the chance to vote on this bill that will protect unborn children across America,” said Westerman.