Wednesday evening brought the surprise announcement that Republicans were withdrawing their bill for a federal 20 week abortion ban scheduled for a vote on the 42nd anniversary of Roe v Wade:
A vote had been scheduled for Thursday to coincide with the annual March for Life, a gathering that brings hundreds of thousands of anti-abortion activists to Washington to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
But Republican leaders dropped those plans after failing to win over a bloc of lawmakers, led by Reps. Rene Ellmers (R-N.C.) and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), who had raised concerns.
The House will vote instead Thursday on a bill prohibiting federal funding for abortions — a more innocuous anti-abortion measure that the Republican-controlled chamber has passed before.
Gosh, that oughtta make things awkward at Thursday’s march!
In my last post I described both the 20 week bill itself (which would be vetoed by President Obama) and Ellmers’ and Walorski’s “leaked” arguments from their supposedly “closed-door” caucus meetings as empty political theater gestures, designed to both advance the anti-choice agenda and soften the images of the two Congresswomen and the GOP on women’s issues. I still stand by that assessment, though even I didn’t expect them to actually pull the bill on the eve of the March for Life.
I don’t buy the explanation that GOP leadership was swayed purely by this:
In recent days, as many as two dozen Republicans had raised concerns with the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” that would ban abortions after the 20th week of a pregnancy. Sponsors said that exceptions would be allowed for a woman who is raped, but she could only get the abortion after reporting the rape to law enforcement.
My guess it was the result of the combination of President Obama delivering a sick burn to them in the form of “I won both times” at the State of the Union address and the realization that an abortion ban with a controversy over what rape exceptions may or may not be in it could lead to a situation allowing the likes of Trent Franks and Steve King to flap their gums indiscriminately on the floor of Congress about rape victims and abortions this particular week.
And the GOP definitely does not want that, when the President has already embarrassed them and SNL, Daily Show, Bill Maher, all the late night network hosts, etc. are not on hiatus. Hence the shift to the safer empty gesture – yet another tiresome ban on federal funding for abortion.
I do hold out hope that Franks will go for it and say something stupid anyway. I think he might be mad enough now to do it.