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Tags: abortion | 20 weeks | rape | incest | house | Renee Ellmers

GOP Women Lawmakers Behind Demise of 20-Week Abortion Bill

By    |   Friday, 23 January 2015 08:43 AM

Roughly two dozen Republican women in the House put their foot down when they found out that the GOP leadership was planning to pass a bill that would restrict certain groups of rape victims from accessing abortions after 20 weeks, The New York Times reported.

Their vocal objections lead to a last-minute ditch of the bill, even though Republicans had hoped to pass the legislation to coincide with the Annual March for Life rally on Capitol Hill marking the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

The Republican women, many whom are new and rising stars in the GOP conference, felt that the legislation did not go far enough to protect the victims of rape and incest. The measure was crafted to require that any woman seeking an abortion after 20 weeks would only be eligible if she had previously reported the incident to the police.

It is estimated that just 35 percent of women report rapes to police, the Times reported, and there are concerns that the requirement would unfairly discriminate against those who may be afraid or uncomfortable about reporting the crime.

North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers and Indiana Rep. Jackie Walorski led the opposition to the bill. They were joined by many freshman and female representatives from more moderate districts.

"We have a responsibility," Walorski told the Times, "to protect the most vulnerable among us and ensure that women facing unwanted pregnancies do not face judgment or condemnation." The Times noted that Walorski has a 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee.

The House ultimately passed a separate abortion bill that tightened federal restrictions on abortion, permanently barring federal funds for abortion coverage. The bill will effectively go nowhere because the president has already vowed to veto it.

While it appears there is widespread support in both the House and the Senate for the 20-week ban, even one of the most vocal proponents, South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, called the House bill "unacceptable," the Times reported.

Pro-life activists wanted conservative lawmakers to keep the bill. Indeed, the House passed an identical piece of legislation in 2013 and a number of the women who objected this time around had voted for it the last time.

"We made the most desperate attempt to avoid these kinds of surprises by making sure that the bill that we introduced was exactly — word for word, letter for letter — the same as we passed," Arizona Representative Trent Franks, who sponsored the bill, told the Times.

"We couldn't find a consensus alternative between the groups and the interested parties. And I think that time will help us accomplish that."

Pro-life supporters were fuming that the bill was ditched.

"Certain lawmakers who voted for the same language in 2013, and who had promised their pro-life constituents that they would do so again, instead worked to weaken the bill or to prevent it from coming to the floor," Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, told the Times.

"Pro-life citizens across the nation are sharply disappointed with those lawmakers who violated commitments to constituents and derailed a bill to protect babies."

Nevertheless, while Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said there would be a vote on the Senate on the 20-week ban this year, the rape and incest provision would have been a fly in the ointment, failing to get needed support from moderate Republicans and almost certainly failing in a filibuster by Democrats, the Times said.

More than a dozen states have passed 20-week bands on abortions, though the federal proposal is the only one that sought to impose a police-report requirement. Proponents of the 20-week ban insist that a fetus at that point of development can feel pain, Politico reported, a figure that has been disputed medical experts.

A November Quinnipiac University poll found that 60 percent of Americans support the basic idea of a 20-week abortion ban, The Washington Post reported. 

Ramesh Ponnuru, a senior editor at the National Review and author of "The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life," told Politico that George W. Bush's ability to sign a partial-birth abortion ban rested on the willingness of male lawmakers to push it through, but that now appears to be a bygone era with the increase of women's influence in Congress.

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Roughly two dozen Republican women in the House put their foot down when they found out that the GOP leadership was planning to pass a bill that would restrict certain groups of rape victims from accessing abortions after 20 weeks, The New York Times reported.
abortion, 20 weeks, rape, incest, house, Renee Ellmers
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2015-43-23
Friday, 23 January 2015 08:43 AM
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