By Tony Perkins
Rep. Renee Ellmers may not feel “beholden” to pro-life groups, but she’s certainly beholden to voters — plenty of whom showed up to her office Thursday to protest her postponement of H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Young people packed the hallway outside of Ellmers’s office to complain about the Congresswoman’s role in shelving a bill several months in the making. “We rally and knock on doors. We are the ones that help elect them and do the work behind the scenes,” one college student told reporters. “To have one of the people we worked for back down, it’s kind of shocking and it hurts us.”
Unfortunately for conservatives, it seems that Ellmers had some help in her misguided campaign from an unlikely source: pro-life conservative Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). Blackburn, who was an original cosponsor of the legislation with Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), is being blamed by conservative colleagues for aiding Ellmers’s cause behind the scenes.
For pro-life members, many of whom were thrilled at the idea of passing the five-month ban on abortions during the March for Life, it was “incomprehensible” that a handful of Republicans would sabotage the bill. According to NRO, Blackburn, along with Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) “led the effort” to pull the bill before a vote. At issue was the bill’s rape and incest exception, which Reps. Blackburn and Ellmers both agreed to in 2013 when the bill was first voted on. Their support then is what’s driving so much confusion now.
“Republican supporters of the pain-capable bill, in its current iteration, are perplexed by Blackburn.Some sources suggest that she is fine with the bill as written, but wants to keep the GOP women united—the sticking point:a requirement that a woman who was a victim of rape or incest and wants to have an abortion after the fifthmonth of pregnancy must report the assault to law enforcement — so she is trying to ‘manage’ the bloc of opponents to the bill.” Either way, both GOP leaders and pro-life groups are disappointed. “Blackburn led the push for the rape and incest exception in the first place,” a lawmaker told NRO, which suggests “that she is moving the goal posts on her own bill.”
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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