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Annual March for Life Marked by Pro-Life Victory Banning Taxpayer Funded Abortions, But Marred by Failure of Pain Capable Abortion Measure Derailed by N.C. Rep. Renee Ellmers

By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
January 23, 2015

March for lifeWASHINGTON – Thursday, hundreds of thousands of pro-life advocates descended on Washington, D.C. for the annual March for Life. They walked along Constitution Avenue to mark the 42nd anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 – a decision by the High Court making abortion legal. That decision has led to the deaths of more than 55 million innocent unborn lives.

Representatives in the U.S. House were also planning to vote on a critical measure in concert with the march. H.R. 36, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, has been called by the North Carolina chapter of Concerned Women for America, as “one of the most crucial pieces of pro-life legislation since the passage of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban.” The proposal would protect babies 20 weeks and older in the womb who can actually feel pain, as well as shield women who are at greater risk from the dangerous effects of a late-term abortion.

But H.R. 36 didn’t get a vote as planned and was scuttled for the time being. Instead House Rules Committee Chair Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tx) supplanted it with H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act. This measure, which essentially codifies the Hyde Amendment, prohibits federal monies from being used to pay for elective abortions. The bill passed the House by a 227-188 vote.

According to Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, the plan had been to move the “five month abortion limit first and then turn off the spigot for federal dollars for abortion next. Unfortunately, the plan was spoiled – not by liberal Democrats, but so-called pro-life Republican women like Renee Elmers (N.C.)…”

The Christian Action League contacted Ellmers office and learned that as Chair of the Republican Women’s Policy Committee, Rep. Ellmers was approached by a number of women Republican lawmakers in the House who expressed their concerns over a rape and incest reporting requirement in the bill. Accordingly, Rep. Ellmers withdrew her name as a cosponsor of the legislation, while also encouraging other lawmakers to remove their names and pushing to derail a vote on the legislation as written.

Congresswoman Ellmers has insisted she is pro-life and that she will vote for the measure, but she believes the provision of concern needs tweaking before a full vote by the House.

Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said Rep. Ellmers actions are nothing less than extremely confusing. “Pro-life North Carolinians are in arms over the matter. It’s baffling. Rep. Ellmers voted for the exact same language when the Pain Capable bill passed the House in 2013. Why oppose it now?  Reports have said the honorable lady from Harnett County is concerned about the way the bill could turn away younger voters. But approximately 56% of the current younger generation of Americans is pro-life. They’re more pro-life than their parents were.”

Rev. Creech also said he’s skeptical of any change needed to the provision in question. “I’m convinced the provision is necessary as written. If it’s amended so that a woman who says she was raped doesn’t have to report to the authorities the alleged sexual assault before 20 weeks, you’ll open a loop-hole big enough for a locomotive to run through. In that case, a woman seeking an abortion needs only claim, ‘I was raped,’ and then get a late term abortion. If you think such is unlikely just remember Norma McCorvy of the infamous Roe v. Wade case now admits she lied more than four decades ago when she declared her pregnancy was the result of a rape.  I know some may deem my words extreme, but so be it. For heaven’s sake, why would we leave a legal exemption for a child 20 weeks old or beyond in its mother’s womb to be ripped to shreds and suffer excruciating pain for any reason? No so-called right of a woman warrants such a violent death of an innocent life. What is wrong with us, have we totally lost all moral sensibility?”

Tami Fitzgerald, head of the North Carolina Values Coalition, was in Washington on Thursday for the March for Life and said she went to Rep. Ellmers office at 3:00 in the afternoon to ask her for an explanation of her actions. Fitzgerald said Rep. Ellmers was not there, but one of her staffers asked for her opinion and took notes.

Tami Fitzgerald

Tami Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald told the Christian Action League: “Renee Ellmers can’t have it both ways. Either she is for a bill that would save 18,000 babies a year at a point when they can feel pain, or she is not. The truth is the Pain Capable bill would have been passed today if she had not led a revolt against it. Her problem with the bill is a distinction without a difference. Most women who are raped don’t wait five months to have an abortion anyway. We are talking about late-term abortions being banned, which 60% of Americans support. Unfortunately, she kept this vote from happening just so she could appear to be a champion for women’s rights. What about the babies that will lose their lives as a result.”

Perkins, however, did say the day was not a total loss. “While this isn’t exactly how pro-lifers planned to mark the 42nd March for Life, we were just as thrilled that House conservatives united to pass the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act – a bill that would permanently wall off taxpayers from the bloody business of abortion in ObamaCare and other federal legislation. For Rep. [Chris] Smith [R-N.J.], Democratic sponsor Rep. Dan Lipinski (Ill.), and the entire movement, seeing the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion pass the House was a tremendous victory, several years in the making. And not just for us – but for an overwhelming number of Americans who support the idea. To the credit of the House leaders, all but one Republican – even the wobbly ones – voted yes on the bill. As disappointed as we are at the handful of members who delayed the pain ban, we applaud the House leadership for remaining committed to advancing pro-life legislation,” said Perkins.

The Pain Capable bill is expected to come back before the House for a vote, but at this point it remains to be seen what form the legislation will take and whether pro-lifers can fully support it.

Rep. Louis Slaugter (R-NY), who co-chairs the Pro-Choice Caucus, reportedly told ThinkProgress she believes the pain capable debacle was a such a “major humiliation” for Republicans it would’nt surprise her if H.R. 36 doesn’t come up again.