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.

NEW YORK — 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 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. 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. However, the House leadership decided late Wednesday to scrap those plans after objections from Republican women and other lawmakers left them short of votes. 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 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. 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. 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. Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, a co-chairman of a House caucus of self-described centrists, said the age limit for the exemption was “unreasonable.” So intense were some of the discussions during a private meeting among House Republicans Wednesday that staff members were told to leave so lawmakers could talk privately, Dent said in an interview. 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.

Supporters of the bill say they want to prevent any instances of abortion medication being administered from afar by a physician using video conferencing technology. 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. Activists on both sides of the issue suggest there might be fewer such bills winning approval this year, in part because some conservative states already have adopted the most common restrictive laws and in part because of political caution by GOP leaders in swing states. “There are some politicians who’d rather not take a position on any controversial issue, especially when they’re looking for higher office,” said Spaulding Balch. 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.

As is customary, the days leading up to Jan. 22 have featured numerous abortion-related events, including statehouse rallies in several states, news conferences by leading activists and the release of advocacy groups’ state-by-state report cards. 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. Was it so urgent, given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported a 13 percent drop in the abortion rate between 2002 and 2011? 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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