House GOP leaders face pushback from female members on abortion bill

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

42 years after Roe v. Wade, women’s reproductive rights in danger.

Deb Hauser was a married mother of a 6-month-old when her husband “went to work one day and didn’t come home.” Two weeks later, she realized she was pregnant. “I’m working full time. WASHINGTON — Democrats in both chambers of Congress will introduce a resolution Thursday that asserts the “constitutionally protected right to safe, legal abortion services,” the same day that House Republicans will vote to roll back abortion rights.Support for an antiabortion bill is in flux amid a revolt by female Republican lawmakers concerned that the legislation’s restrictive language will once again spoil the party’s chances of broadening its appeal to women and younger voters.

Jan. 21, 2015: Anti-abortion rights activists are connected with a red piece of cloth as they stage a ‘die-in’ in front of the White House in Washington. (AP) House Republicans searched for a way Wednesday to advance the new Congress’ first abortion legislation, hoping to avoid an inter-party implosion over a bill that at one point seemed all but certain of passage. Lead sponsors and senior Republicans aides predict that the bill will pass — but that won’t happen until leaders address the concerns of the female lawmakers, who oppose abortion but are concerned about the restrictive nature of the bill and holding a vote so early in the new congressional term.

Wade: Another occasion to tally up the attacks on reproductive health care in legislatures across the U.S., wins and losses in the courts, and ground lost or gained in the battle over women’s rights and health care. Renee Ellmers says she will support an abortion bill set for a vote in Congress on Thursday after wavering this week and then facing a storm of criticism. The dispute once again demonstrates how the changing contours of the expanded House Republican caucus are causing rifts on issues where the party once had more unity. Unlike the last few years that were dominated by tea party-backed conservatives, the House now has more moderate Republicans from swing districts who could face tough reelections in 2016 when more Democratic and independent voters are expected to vote in the presidential election.

In the 42 years since that decision, abortion has been safely provided in doctors’ offices across the country — with studies showing that abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in the U.S. Some Republicans, including female members of Congress, objected to that requirement, saying that many women feel too distressed to report rapes and should not be penalized.

All I know is I had a responsibility to my 6-month-old.” Hauser had an abortion, “which was absolutely the right thing to do for me, and for my son,” she says. “I never ever regretted it.” Eventually her husband was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, they were divorced, and she remarried and raised her son, who is now 20. “Abortion has played a really important role in my life,” she said. “It got me stable again.” Now she wants to help other women tell their abortion stories. Instead of just playing defense against Republicans’ 20-week abortion ban, Democrats are responding with a pro-abortion rights resolution that highlights the stark contrast between the parties on reproductive rights.

Already this month, a large bloc of moderate Republicans voted against a spending bill that would repeal President Obama’s changes to immigration policy enacted by executive action. A 2013 Justice Department report calculated that just 35 percent of rapes and sexual assaults were reported to police. “The issue becomes, we’re questioning the woman’s word,” said Rep. Jackie Walorski, an Indiana Republican. “I have urged leadership to reconsider bringing it up,” Ellmers told National Journal in an interview late last week. “We got into trouble last year, and I think we need to be careful again; we need to be smart about how we’re moving forward.” “The first vote we take, or the second vote, or the fifth vote, shouldn’t be on an issue where we know that millennials – social issues just aren’t as important [to them],” she said. “We are sad to report to you that Congresswoman Renee Ellmers has betrayed the pro-life community,” says the message, posted on the group’s website. Supreme Court’s historic decision 42 years ago, when women of means could travel to get safe care, and women without were left with few or no options.

Renee Ellmers, R-N.C. “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. As the 42nd anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortion approaches Thursday, abortion rights forces hope this new tack will help them reverse the momentum gained by abortion opponent in recent years. Now, people familiar with the dispute say that as many as two dozen Republicans have concerns with the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” that would ban abortions after the 20th week of a pregnancy. In Texas—where the Roe battle began—politicians have enacted laws that have shut down more than half of the state’s abortion clinics and devastated access to family planning services.

In control of the entire Congress for the first time in eight years, Republicans also want to demonstrate that they can focus on issues that matter to voters and not get bogged down in gridlock. Sponsors say 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. Congress now in GOP hands, federal restrictions are likely to pass as well. “It’s very clear that pro-life legislators and people running for office are on the offense now,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion advocacy group, the Susan B.

The fact is that obtaining admitting privileges is not a requirement for being a licensed medical provider; it is not a designation of the quality of a provider; and, many medical experts agree, it does not make patients safer. Late Wednesday, Ellmers posted to Facebook a one paragraph message: “To clear up any misinformation, I will be voting tomorrow to support H.R. 36 – The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protect Act Resources bill.

In fact, leading medical groups oppose such laws because they have the perverse effect of restricting access to health care, and they can jeopardize women’s health. That’s because these requirements give hospitals complete decision-making power over whether physicians who provide abortion services will receive admitting privileges.

Just like other outpatient medical facilities, health centers that provide abortion have the staffing, equipment and referral arrangements in place to handle emergencies in the unlikely event of a complication. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. “It will never become law.” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a brief interview that he believed the House would debate the bill as planned. Politico reports that six GOP congresswomen, including Ellmers, also expressed concerns that the rape exception in the bill is too narrow because it only would only apply to women who have filed police reports. Rene Ellmers (R-N.C.) and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), who withdrew their support last week and voiced concerns during meetings at the annual Republican policy retreat in Hershey, Pa. Richards says the movement to destigmatize abortion also has a special appeal to younger women. “They are much more open about sex, sexuality, sexual identity, and abortion,” she said.

Planned Parenthood consulted on the production of last year’s indie film Obvious Child, in which a young comedian played by Jenny Slate finds herself unexpectedly pregnant after a one-night stand. “It was so refreshing,” Richards said. “Most of the time abortion is talked about [in the media], it’s some gothic story. On the popular conservative blog Red State, a headline blared: “Renee Ellmers is Worse Than a Democrat.” The concerns among female Republicans set off a scramble Wednesday among top GOP leaders concerned about how several “no” votes could be perceived by their party and the general public.

Which is not to say she agrees that speaking out will – or should – eliminate the stigma. “It’s very true that women are afraid to talk about their abortion,” she says. “It’s very true that there is a lot of shame associated with it. Planned Parenthood has a national set of standards and guidelines based on the expert recommendations of the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) and Ann Wagner (R-Mo.). I see women every day with many different reproductive health-care needs, but one thing is constant: Every woman needs the right to decide for herself, in consultation with her medical provider, her family, and her faith, whether or not to carry her pregnancy to term. When these decisions are taken away from her, she is unable to get the health care she requires to remain healthy and to protect her future and her family.

As lawmakers in Tallahassee consider policy on women’s health, it’s critical to listen to women’s health-care providers, who know that legal abortion is safe — and it will only stay that way if it remains legal and accessible. At the same closed-door retreat two years ago, Republican pollsters implored GOP lawmakers to stop discussing rape on the campaign trail and on Capitol Hill. The warnings came after several candidates faced heat in 2012 — including former congressman Todd Akin (R-Mo.), who said a woman could terminate a pregnancy resulting from a “legitimate rape,” and Richard Mourdock, a GOP candidate for an Indiana Senate seat, who said that babies resulting from rape were a “gift from God.” Franks, who is an ardent antiabortion activist, has been known to take an aggressive stance on the issue in the past, often clashing with Democrats opposed to his proposals.

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