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After GOP House Scuttles One Bill, Pro-Life Leaders Turn to Plan B

Ron Cogswell--CC
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House vote to ban taxpayer funding of abortion passes easily.

WASHINGTON – Pro-life leaders pivoted to Plan B Thursday after House Republican leaders scuttled legislation that sought to ban abortion in most cases after 20 weeks gestation.

The House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act the same day as the March for Life on the National Mall. But House GOP leaders changed their plans after a few female pro-life lawmakers from competitive districts complained that its requirements for reporting rape were too conservative. They swapped the legislation for another anti-abortion bill, which the lower chamber approved Thursday afternoon.

In a joint statement, three female pro-life leaders sought to put a brave face on pulling the bill. “While we are disappointed that the House will not be voting on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act today, we are pleased that the House is moving forward to stop taxpayer funding of abortion,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, Jeanne Monahan of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, and Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.

Brian Burch, president of Catholic Vote, criticized House Republican leaders for scuttling the legislation. “They say they need to work out some of the language in the bill. They want more time to resolve differences over reporting requirements for victims of rape. But the fact is, they should have worked out these problems weeks, even months, ago. Americans did not elect the GOP to control both houses of Congress for mishaps like this,” Burch said in a statement.

Abortion supporters said the substitute legislation was as egregious as the original bill. “The Tea Party-led Congress is desperately trying to save face after being forced to abandon their abortion ban bill yesterday. So what do they do? They substitute a bill that is equally bad policy,” NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said in a statement.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops urged lawmakers to approve the bill.

According to press reports, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) was the lead holdout. In an interview with National Journal, last week Ellmers said the legislation could alienate young voters. Ellmers has coasted to victory in her last two elections, but won by fewer than 1,500 votes in 2010.

Rep. Jackie Walorski was another defector. Although Walorski whipped her opponent by nearly 30,000 votes last year, she eked out a victory of less than 3,000 votes in 2012.  

Both said they would vote for the pain-capable legislation. Although Ellmers clarified Wednesday night she would vote for the bill, her initial change of heart prompted other female Republican lawmakers to reconsider their support for the bill.

In the afternoon, the House of Representatives voted on the No-Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. According to the Congressional Research Service, the legislation would prohibit health-care plans under the Affordable Care Act that cover elective abortion and make permanent a ban on federal funding of abortion in the District of Columbia. Pro-life Republicans said the legislation enjoys popular support and seeks to defend innocent unborn humans.

“As a mother of four, I know how precious the gift of life is, and that it should be protected in law,” Rep. Mimi Walter (R-Ca.) said on the House floor Thursday afternoon.

Pro-abortion rights Democrats said the bill was a backdoor attempt to knock down Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that repealed state laws to ban and restrict the procedure. “Absolutely outrageous, that’s what Republican attempts to repeal

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