Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina is facing criticism from pro-life advocates for taking her name off of a bill that will get a vote tomorrow in the House of Representatives to ban abortions after 20 weeks, a time when unborn babies feel intense pain in abortions.
In an extraordinary action, on Tuesday afternoon, Congresswoman Ellmers went to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and formally cancelled her co-sponsorship of the pro-life bill.
“This means that Congresswoman Ellmers personally sought and received permission to remove her name from this vital pro-life bill – even though she voted for exactly the same legislation on June 18, 2013,” the folks at North Carolina Right to Life responded. “The National Right to Life office in Washington says that withdrawal of cosponsorship on any kind of bill is very rare, and that such an action has occurred on pro-life legislation only a handful of times in the last three decades.”
UPDATE: 6:00 PM ET: Ellmers said on her Facebook page that she would vote for the bill.
“To clear up any misinformation, I will be voting tomorrow to support H.R. 36 – The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protect Act Resources bill. I have and will continue to be a strong defender of the prolife community,” Ellmers wrote.
The first indications of trouble with Ellmers, who has been a reliable pro-life vote, came after a Politico article indicated that she was upset about language in the bill that required women who are raped and seeking abortions to report the rape to authorities to qualify for the abortion.
Led by Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, the lawmakers are protesting language that requires a rape victim to formally report her assault to police to qualify for an exemption from the legislation’s abortion restrictions.
Ellmers raised the concerns during a closed-door meeting at the GOP retreat here, according to sources in the room. Her office did not have a comment on Friday on the discussions with Republican leaders.
According to National Journal, Ellmers also thinks the bill is wrongheaded because it will supposedly turn off young people, even though polls consistently show they are pro-life on abortion:
In a closed-door open-mic session of House Republicans, Rep. Renee Ellmers… [said] she believes the bill will cost the party support among millennials, according to several sources in the room.
“I have urged leadership to reconsider bringing it up next week.… We got into trouble last year, and I think we need to be careful again; we need to be smart about how we’re moving forward,” Ellmers said in an interview. “The first vote we take, or the second vote, or the fifth vote, shouldn’t be on an issue where we know that millennials—social issues just aren’t as important [to them].”
Pro-life advocates are not happy with Ellmers, as pro-life writer Jill Stanek responded “Lovely of Rep. Ellmers to hand the other side talking points on a silver platter.”
Abortion advocates have seized on the dustup and said,“Forcing women to go on-the-record about such a traumatic experience as a prerequisite to getting help is unconscionable, and adds to the pain of women who are survivors of rape or incest.”
Stanek responded to that, by saying, “Right, we certainly wouldn’t want to encourage victims to report their rapes, so their perpetrators might be stopped from terrorizing them again, or other girls and women. And women would never lie about being raped. Ask Rolling Stone about that. Or Duke.”
One pro-life writer at Red State is taking a pretty hard-line stance in reaction to Ellmers backing down from supporting the bill, though electing a pro-abortion member of Congress to her seat would be a step backwards.
Let us be clear about two things. First, this bill is supported by a large majority of the population including men, women, millenials, and independents. According to Q-Poll, women favor it 59-35, millenials support it 57-38 and independents support it 56-36. Even among Democrats it is basically a toss-up issue, with Democrats barely opposing it 47-46. So Ellmers has placed herself to the left of the average Democrat voter on this issue with her hysterical shrieking and her attempts to paint the passage of the bill as a doomsday scenario.
Second, there is absolutely no scenario in which you can call yourself pro-life in any way and oppose this bill. If you have an abortion bill that is favored by half of Democrats and you oppose it, then you are pro-abortion, period. And not just a little bit pro-abortion, you’re outside the mainstream pro-abortion. The public supports this bill 60%-33%. If you oppose it, you are a pro-abortion extremist. Ellmers is either lying to her constituents about being pro-life or she has become a poltroon on this issue now that the GOP has taken control of the house and she figures she can increase her district’s share of the federal feeding trough.
It is one thing for Democrats, who are in the pocket of the abortion lobby, to oppose this bill. That is what they are paid to do. But what Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. Renee Ellmers51%House Republican Average61%51% is doing here is worse because she is trying to poison the caucus of people who might potentially vote for the bill. It would be better to have a Democrat in this seat than a cancer in the Republican caucus.
If you are a constituent of hers, call her office at 202-225-4531 and voice your frustration with her craven lies. And come 2016, we need to replace Ellmers with a good Republican, or failing that, a Democrat.