House GOP Says It Will Continue Push For 20-Week Abortion Ban

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

House Republicans say they will continue to work on passing legislation to ban abortion after 20-weeks, after a bill aimed at doing so was scuttled at the eleventh hour when some members raised concerns about language within the initial text.

“There is a word of honor that it will,” come up again, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), one of the bill’s sponsors, told reporters Thursday.

Thursday marks the 42nd anniversary of Roe V. Wade and the day thousands of pro-life activists descend on Washington D.C. to “March for Life.”

House Republicans planned to hold a vote on the 20-week ban. However a group of Republican lawmakers raised concerns about a provision that would require rape victims to report their crime.

“It was a lot of women members of Congress were concerned about the reportable rape language,” Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), a moderate who saw problems with the bill, told reporters. “Most rapes, we know, go unreported and in order to qualify for the exception one would first have to go to the police. I mean, maybe you talk to your clergyman, your priest or your rabbi but you didn’t talk to the police. You know it’s really difficult.”

Instead of the 20-week ban the House voted on and passed Rep. Chris Smith’s (R-NJ) No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion with a comfortable margin of 242-179 Thursday.

A leadership aide explained to Breitbart News that the decision to swap the bill was one of timing, and stressed that House Republicans are “committed to continue working through the process on the pain capable bill to make sure it too is successful.”

“Given the timing and process on the pain-capable bill, some concerns were raised by a number of Members (both men and women) that need to be worked out,” the aide explained in an email.

Pro-life members expressed disappointment that the original 20-week ban was not brought to the floor but did not blame a lack of pro-life commitment as the reason House leaders decided to pull the bill.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), often a thorn in leadership’s side, told Breitbart News he thought the swap reflected an “inability to manage the House properly.”

‘“I think its a management  issue, as we see now. But I told pro-lifers last night it’s my fear that they’ll think this is the one pro-life vote, or week a year,” he said.

Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), also a critic of House Speaker John Boehner, expressed disappointment that the 20-week bill was pulled and blamed a lack of strong leadership for the decision.

“I think that they should have said to those of you who cannot support this bill, then vote that way. But I think it was wrong for the conference to pull that bill,” he said.

Jones added that he does not believe the decision to swap out the bill reflected on the strength of leaderships’ pro-life views.

“To me it’s a matter of saying this is our agenda,” he said. “This is part of the Republican platform. We’re going to move these bills and if you can’t vote with us for the bill and you happen to be in the conference then make your decision. This is a very important issue to a lot of us and the American people as well.”

The opposition to the reporting language in the bill was somewhat unexpected given the House passed the exact same bill in 2013 without issue, Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) noted.

“I think the leadership didn’t anticipate the concerns being raised so that’s why I don’t fault them. I think they are doing the best they can,” he said. “The important thing is we’re unified behind a bill today.”

Franks said he saw the decision as one of strategy, not something that reflected on the strength anyone’s pro-life beliefs.

“I think it was in the minds of the leadership a strategic effort,” he said. “I don’t think that it represents any less effort on their part to the ultimate goal.”

The Arizona lawmaker noted that there had been an effort to avoid a situation like the one that occurred by using the exact same bill “word for word, letter for letter” as the one that previously passed.

Franks added that he thinks that “time will help us accomplish” a consensus with those who have concerns.

Leaving the chamber Thursday afternoon Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), the highest ranking woman in the House, told reporters, “We’re working on it.”