House Republicans are struggling to find a way to move forward with an abortion bill in the face of criticism from two female lawmakers on the legislation's proposed restrictions on rape victims.
The bill would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but require rape victims to report the crime to police before seeking the procedure.
"My heart is open if we can find some way to make it better," the bill's author, Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks, told Talking Points Memo
"But at this point I don't know what that is. There seems to be no consensus as to how we could make it better."
North Carolina Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers and Indiana Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski have both pulled their support, The Hill reports,
and more than two dozen others are suggesting they'd vote against the bill, according to Politico.
Because of the friction, the timing of passage – a vote had been planned for Thursday – is now in question, TPM reports, citing unnamed sources.
The challenge, TPM notes, is to tweak the rape language without alienating staunch anti-abortion members.
"Leadership has a very difficult task in terms of being able to gauge the ultimate task of balance and consensus," Franks told TPM. "I don't envy their conundrum."
Republicans discussed the issue and Ellmers' objections in a conference meeting Wednesday morning, Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole told TPM.
Leaders are "trying to address those concerns," he said. "Look, we're a pretty united pro-life conference but we're trying to make sure we're all together on something this important."
The White House Tuesday threatened to veto the bill,
saying it conflicts with the Supreme Court's holdings on abortion rights.
A vote as originally planned on Thursday would coincide with the National March for Life across Washington, D.C., as well as the anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case.
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