House Republicans intend to vote this week on legislation to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a move to lay down their marker in the 114th Congress on a controversy that has roiled the nation for decades.
In an unusual move, some Republican women are rebelling against language that requires women to report a sexual assault to authorities in order to legally terminate a pregnancy resulting from rape.
Tuesday on the House floor, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) asked to remove their names as cosponsors of the bill.
Ellmers suggested to National Journal that the bill would alienate millennial voters.
“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,” she told the paper last week.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). An earlier version passed in 2013, losing just 6 Republican votes and winning 6 Democratic votes. It went nowhere in the Democratic-led Senate.
It’s unclear the defections are enough to scuttle the bill — even if they don’t win any Democrats, Republicans can afford to lose 28 members and still ensure House passage.
On Tuesday the White House threatened to veto the legislation, calling it a “direct challenge to the Supreme Court’s holdings on abortion.”
In a statement, the White House said the rape provision “demonstrates a complete disregard for the women who experience sexual assault and the barriers they may face in reporting. Research indicates that the majority of survivors have not reported their sexual assaults to law enforcement.”