The So-called Republican Women's 'Revolt' on Abortion Bill Is Revolting ... and Hypocritical

Late Wednesday night, House Republicans showed off their unity and discipline by tabling a vote on an anti-abortion bill that passed in the previous Congress, after some of the few women among their ranks rebelled against a provision requiring that rape or incest had to have been reported to the authorities for a woman to make use of the bill's rape or incest exception. Reps. Renee Ellmers and Jackie Walorski are credited with getting the bill pulled, at least for now. But let's not give them too much credit—both Ellmers and Walorski voted for the same languagethe last time around.


Proponents of the bill argued that the same rape clause was included in the version that passed the House with just six GOP defections last Congress. Yet women in the conference said privately that they felt blindsided then, because it was included in the text during a meeting of the Rules Committee mere hours before the bill came to the floor. They held their fire at the time, but warned leaders not to include it in the base text of the bill this year, even meeting with Majority Whip Steve Scalise before the GOP retreat.

So: They objected to the language, but voted for the bill as good little soldiers. Then they made their objections clear privately, but were ignored by the men in their party. That's, uh, a great advertisement for where women's concerns rank with House Republicans. And whatever credit Ellmers and Walorski—and the other women participating in their rebellion—were going to get for being willing to buck their party this time around takes a pretty serious hit, too.

Now Republicans have to figure out what to do, and they're under intense pressure from the anti-abortion crowd, which is gathering in Washington, DC, Thursday to protest the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. One possibility is that they'll just scrap that inconvenient provision allowing victims of rape or incest to get abortions after 20 weeks:

"I would not make exceptions for rape and incest, and then the reporting requirement would not be necessary," said Rep. Steve King, who attended the Conservative Opportunity Society meeting. [...]

"Everyone in our party supports the basic thrust of the bill," [the bill's lead sponsor, Rep. Trent Franks,] said. "Leadership is trying to figure out if they took out exceptions entirely, if they left it as it is—there's all kinds of things they're trying to do to balance, but I think they've tried to balance it the best way they knew how."

It sure will be interesting to see if that passes muster with Ellmers and Walorski—there won't be a requirement to report to the police, anyway!

9:01 AM PT: Thwarted on that bill, House Republicans are planning to bring up another anti-abortion bill for a vote. This one has Congress sticking its nose into women's personal health care choices under the guise of banning taxpayer funding for abortion, and the White House is threatening a veto.

10:30 AM PT: The bill where Congress sticks its nose into the private insurance choices available to women has passed the House, 242 to 179.

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