- Moderates Force Leadership to Pull Abortion Bill
- March 20, 2015
- Law Firm: McDonald Hopkins LLC - Cleveland Office
- It has been a rocky start for House GOP leadership, and the rocky start got a little rockier this week over the contentious issue of abortion. Bowing to the wishes of several moderates and women members, House Republican leaders pulled a controversial antiabortion bill from consideration late Wednesday night, a move sure to enrage antiabortion activists, who descended on Capitol Hill Thursday for their annual March for Life.
House Republican women and moderates had battled against their leaders on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, exhibiting the deepening rift between centrists and conservatives who are at cross-purposes on which issues the party should be highlighting.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Republican leaders were insistent they would move ahead with legislation banning abortions after 20 weeks, but the Rules Committee announced an emergency meeting Wednesday night and sources said the bill would be pulled in favor of the less controversial alternative.
Some Republicans worried that the 20-week abortion measure might alienate millennials and female voters. But many female lawmakers were also furious over its clause stating that women can be exempt from the ban in cases of rape only if they reported the rape to authorities.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told his conference at a closed-door meeting Wednesday that the bill was controversial, but that the plan was to move it anyway. That drew dissent from rank-and-file women, who were concerned that the bill's rape clause would have a chilling effect on women reporting rapes and livid that they were not consulted before the objectionable clause concerning the rape exception was added into the base text of the bill.
Proponents of the bill argued that the same rape clause was included in the version that passed the House with just six GOP defections last Congress. Yet, women in the conference said privately that they felt blindsided then, because it was included in the text during a meeting of the Rules Committee mere hours before the bill came to the floor. They held their fire at the time, but warned leaders not to include it in the base text of the bill this year.
A broader cross-section of Republican members also questioned why the House was spending time on legislation that was unlikely to overcome the 60-vote threshold in the Senate, let alone be signed into law by the president.