Renee Ellmers Leads GOP’s Cave on Abortion on Eve of March for Life

AP Photo/Sara D. Davis
AP Photo/Sara D. Davis

As hundreds of thousands of members of the pro-life community descend upon Washington D.C. for the March for Life Thursday, the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives has caved to Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and a group of GOP women who believe passage of a bill that would ban abortions past the fifth month of pregnancy would hurt the Party’s chances with women and millennials.

Up to 500,000 are expected to participate in the march on Capitol Hill, representing what may be the largest recurring civil rights march in the country.

The upending of the bill comes as a member of that GOP leadership team, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)—the House GOP conference chair—is leading the House delegation to, and addressing the crowds of pro-life marchers at the March for Life on Thursday on the national mall in Washington, D.C.

McMorris Rodgers’ office wouldn’t comment on the decision to cave to what one pro-life member of the House called the “abortion industry,” deferring to others in GOP leadership on that decision, but did profess her own pro-life credentials in an emailed statement to Breitbart News.

As CNN reports, the group of female House Republicans “is criticizing abortion legislation that is scheduled for a vote on Thursday, arguing provisions dealing with rape are too harsh, and could threaten the party’s efforts to reach out to women and young people.”

A heated, closed-door meeting on Wednesday reportedly led to congressional aides being asked to leave “when the debate turned emotional.”

“Republican leadership late Wednesday evening had to completely drop its plans to pass a bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks, and is reverting to old legislation that prohibits taxpayer funding of abortions,” Politico’s Jake Sherman wrote Wednesday evening about the new plan, adding later in his piece, “the new legislation doesn’t stand a chance to become law.”

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), one of the most pro-life leaders in Congress, argued—according to Politico—that the opposition to the bill from Ellmers, Walorski, and others came from the “abortion industry,” and he compared this battle to the Civil War.

On Tuesday, Ellmers and Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) removed their names as co-sponsors of the legislation. Both, however, took to Facebook to say that they supported the Pain Capable bill and would vote “yes” on it.

“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 vote on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act was to take place on Thursday, when hundreds of thousands of members of the pro-life community will participate in the annual March for Life on the national mall. Additionally, over 2,000 millennials are due to participate in the Students For Life of America conference in the D.C. area on Friday.

According to CNN, other establishment Republicans have joined Ellmers and her group, but most of the GOP women “who were seen huddling on the House floor during votes on Wednesday” would not talk about their discussions.

As Breitbart News reported January 17, when word of Ellmers’ attempt to sabotage the legislation over language about rape was revealed, leaders of the major pro-life organizations from around the nation expressed their rage that the bill would be undermined by Republicans themselves.

In a statement to Breitbart News, Conservative Review Senior Editor Daniel Horowitz said that McMorris Rodgers should condemn her conference’s Republican members in her speech at the March For Life on Thursday.

“When Cathy McMorris Rogers speaks at the March for Life, as the head of the messaging arm of the House GOP, the first words out of her mouth must be rebuke for her GOP colleagues for trying to prevent a pro-life bill from receiving a vote,” Horowitz said in the emailed statement. “It is imperative McMorris Rogers use her leadership mantel and stand for the cause of the unborn and against the vocal minority who oppose this pain capable abortion bill. If she is silent on the subject, then she is complicit – her job is to message the GOP platform, and fight at every opportunity against those trying to subvert it.”

McMorris Rodgers’ office hasn’t answered any specific questions about her position on the GOP women led by Ellmers caving on the issue. Instead, her office provided Breitbart News with a statement detailing the personal reasons why she says she is pro-life. McMorris Rodgers’ son Cole was born with an extra 21st chromosome and she has frequently been a leading voice on pro-life issues.

“As a parent and as a longtime champion of the pro-life community in Congress, I have consistently voted to protect every human life – because every single person has something amazing to offer the world,” McMorris Rodgers said in the statement provided to Breitbart News. “My 7-year-old son Cole, who was diagnosed with an extra 21st chromosome, has renewed my belief that every person has a purpose, has a plan for their life, and that life should be valued and celebrated. Every life is a gift, and I am inspired by the community of advocates, pro-life colleagues, and supporters who are working together, united in protecting that gift.”

It remains unclear, however, if McMorris Rodgers thinks it’s acceptable for members of her conference—like Ellmers and her fellow GOP leadership officials—to do what they did to destroy a strong anti-abortion bill and replace it with a weaker one. McMorris Rodgers’ office would not answer questions about that on the record. Her office instead referred Breitbart News to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s team, as it is McCarthy who makes decisions about legislation that goes to the floor in conjunction with Speaker John Boehner.

McCarthy’s office hasn’t immediately responded to a request for comment.


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