A popular but somewhat controversial abortion bill that was due to hit the House floor this week has been dropped, after a small number of GOP women revolted on Capitol Hill, sparking outrage from pro-life supporters and the Republican mainstream.
A bill that would have addressed what many have termed as the “barbaric” practice of late-term abortion was due to hit the floor of the House of Representatives this week, as thousands of people march on Washington for a Pro-Life rally. The bill, which would have banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, had gained large support among House Republicans and their constituents. However, the bill was derailed by opposition from one female Republican in particular, Rep. Renee Ellmers from North Carolina who, in the final hours, chose to complain behind close doors over one particular portion of the bill that would make exceptions to this rule for victims of rape if they had reported the assault to authorities.
Ellmers objected to this stipulation, saying that it was not “compassionate to women when they’re in a crisis situation.” However, supporters of the bill say that this clause is actually designed to not only help enforce existing legislation, but to encourage victims to report their assaults in a nation where 68 percent of sexual assaults are never reported to the authorities. As such, more needs to be done to help and encourage the victims to come forward and seek justice. While this provision required the assaults to be reported, it did not put any pressure on victims to pursue charges or testify in court.
The bill is being replaced by an act that will make the Heide Amendment permanent, insuring that no federal dollars can ever be used to fund abortions. However, House Republicans have vowed to bring the late term abortion ban bill back to the floor at a later time. Many of Ellmers’ fellow Republicans have criticized her for waiting until the last minute to come forward with her objections, which threatened the united front on an issue that so many of their supporters have been so passionate about. Some even asked where these objections were over the past two years that the bill has been in the works. Supporters are lashing out at Republican leadership for folding to the demands of a small number of objections within the party and urging them to continue on, including Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who issued a statement on the matter.
“We are disappointed that a handful of Members caused a delay in the Pain Capable Unborn Child Act… The excruciating pain that unborn babies feel at five months is a matter of biology, not a matter of belief. It is time that Congress put an end to this barbaric horror.”
[Image: National Journal]