Abortion Vote Canceled After Republican In-Fighting Over 20-Week Ban

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Abortion Vote Canceled After Republican In-Fighting Over 20-Week Ban.

In an embarrassing setback, House Republicans abruptly decided Wednesday to drop planned debate of a bill criminalizing virtually all late-term abortions after objections from GOP women and other lawmakers left them short of votes. NEW YORK (AP) — Buoyed by conservative gains in the November election, foes of abortion are mobilizing on behalf of bills in several state legislatures that would further curtail women’s access to the procedure.As President Obama prepared on Tuesday to lay out his economic agenda in his State of the Union address, House Republicans were moving ahead with an agenda of their own.

WASHINGTON – House Republicans have hastily shelved plans to vote Thursday on a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, after a revolt within their ranks led by female members. The decision came on the eve of the annual March for Life, when thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators stream to Washington to mark the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. The legislation, which doesn’t even grant exceptions to victims of rape unless they report it to police, was scheduled to be taken up Thursday — on the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Instead, the House is set to vote on HR7, the so-called No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act, which attacks private insurance coverage of the procedure. (Medicaid and other public funding for abortion is already banned except in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment.) For days, reports had surfaced that female Republicans were furious about the measure, despite the fact that several of them had voted for the same language in 2013. The measure “is only delayed — it will be up on the floor soon,” said Representative Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican, explaining the change during the rules panel meeting.

In a complication GOP leaders were not able to resolve, they then ran into objections from anti-abortion groups and lawmakers when they discussed eliminating the reporting requirements. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina and Jackie Walorski of Indiana helmed the effort to cancel the vote, citing unnamed sources who suggested that Republican leaders were worried about political damage from female Republicans voting en masse against the bill. Voters in exit polls said their top priorities were the economy (45 percent), health care (25 percent), immigration (14 percent) and foreign policy (13 percent) — not surprising, given that these are the issues Republicans talked about. A Gallup poll after the election found that fewer than 0.5 percent of Americans think abortion should be the top issue, placing it behind at least 33 other issues. A senior GOP leadership aide told NBC News late Wednesday that top Republicans still intended to bring the bill back up for a vote later this year. “Our conference needs a little more time,” the aide said.

The Washington Post reported that female members were seen meeting with leadership Wednesday afternoon, and noted, “In a caucus dominated by men, a meeting with top leaders requested and attended almost exclusively by women is a rare sight.” But many of the women spotted there, led by Rep. Notable among them is a first-of-its-kind measure being drafted in Kansas, with the backing of the National Right to Life Committee, which would ban doctors from using forceps, tongs or other medical implements to dismember a living fetus in the womb to complete an abortion.

And they’re not pleased. “Tomorrow, may I recommend: A.) have your prayer time/Bible study b.) call your Member of Congress,” tweeted Russell Moore, who helms the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, linking to the Post story. Late Wednesday, they canceled plans to take up the bill Thursday after a group of House Republican women rebelled against the bill’s unkind treatment of rape victims. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., added, “I have and will continue to be a strong defender of the prolife community.” “The issue becomes, we’re questioning the woman’s word,” she said in an interview. “We have to be compassionate to women when they’re in a crisis situation.” The divisiveness over the measure comes as Republicans, looking ahead to the 2016 presidential and congressional elections, hope to increase their support from women. Ted Cruz’s communications director, Amanda Carpenter, was also critical of the leadership’s decision. “Heartbroken that the House has decided to let down millions of prolifers around the country,” she tweeted.

But the leaders clearly hadn’t learned the larger lesson: They merely substituted a different antiabortion bill (banning federal funding of abortion) that would be easier to pass. In control of the entire Congress for the first time in eight years, Republicans also want to demonstrate they can focus on issues that matter to voters and not get bogged down in gridlock. Earl Ray Tomblin, but Republicans now control both chambers of the Legislature. • Several anti-abortion measures are expected in Tennessee, where voters in November overturned a court ruling holding that abortion was protected by the state constitution as part of a woman’s fundamental right to privacy. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, explained to the House Rules Committee on Tuesday that the abortion matter was of such urgency that they needed to suspend “regular order” — the process by which bills are first taken up by committee. The GOP drafted a bill so extreme and so out of touch with the voters that even their own membership could not support,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue.

Trent Franks, R-Ariz., a chief sponsor of the bill, called it “a sincere effort” to protect women and “their unborn, pain-capable child from the atrocity of late-term abortion.” He also said GOP leaders “want to try to create as much unity as we can.” A report this week by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office cited estimates by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that about 10,000 abortions in the U.S. are performed annually 20 weeks or later into pregnancies. And Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said, “These attacks are so dangerous, extreme, and unpopular that House Republicans can’t even get their membership lined up behind them.” Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) countered that polls were a poor justification for the abortion ban, which he called a “messaging bill” timed to coincide with the Roe anniversary.

The Obama administration said Tuesday the president would veto the measure if it reached his desk. “Women should be able to make their own choices about their bodies and their health care, and government should not inject itself into decisions best made between a woman and her doctor,” according to the White House statement. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) escalated the spat. “This is not driven at all by messaging or by an anniversary but our strong sense of morality,” she said, asserting that “killing those unborn babies shows utter contempt for life.” “I don’t really appreciate having my morality questioned here,” retorted Rep. She said the Republicans should put the title “gynecicians” on their résumé — “politician[s] who believe they know more about women’s health than doctors do.” It was implausible for Republicans to deny that they were doing the bidding of the antiabortion lobby. Make sure you’re lying in the fetal position.” Once 40 had assumed the position, the woman with the bullhorn announced that “the womb is the most dangerous place for a child.” That Republicans are catering to this annual convention raises some questions about the genuineness of their agenda. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), giving the Republican response, vowed that “we’ll defend life, because protecting our most vulnerable is an important measure of any society.”

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