GOP Congresswomen Withdraw Their Support For Proposed Abortion Ban

CREDIT: AP Photo/Harry Hamburg

Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC)

Two GOP congresswomen have officially withdrawn their support for a proposed 20-week abortion ban that has recently sparked controversy within the Republican Party, asking to be removed as co-sponsors from the legislation.

On Tuesday afternoon, during the House’s session, Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN) requested to remove their names from HR 36, the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” The exchange was recorded on C-SPAN.

HR 36, which has passed the House twice in recent years, was expected to be approved by the full GOP-controlled Congress this year, particularly since the Republican leadership has turned to restrictions on later abortions as a top policy priority. It was introduced on the very first day of the 114th Congress’ session and is scheduled for a vote in the full House this Thursday, which marks the 42nd anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

But at the end of last week, the National Journal reported that Ellmers was raising concerns about the proposed abortion ban. In a closed-door meeting of Republican lawmakers, Ellmers reportedly said that focusing on a national abortion ban so early in the session threatens to alienate young female voters, a demographic that the GOP has been vying to attract. The congresswoman also expressed concerns about the legislation’s narrow exception for rape victims, which currently requires them to report their assault to law enforcement officials in order to have access to later abortion services.

Press officials for Ellmers and Walorski have not yet returned ThinkProgress’ request for comment.

Several female lawmakers in the Republican Party — including Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Candice Miller (R-MI), Diane Black (R-TN), and Virginia Foxx (R-NC) — appear to have kept their names on the anti-choice bill.

The proposed 20-week abortion ban likely won’t become law even if the majority of Republican co-sponsors continue to support the legislation. Hours before President Obama is set to give his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, he indicated that he is prepared to veto HR 36 if Congress sends it to his desk.

In an analysis published on Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that enacting a national 20-week abortion ban would increase federal spending on Medicaid by an estimated $235 million between 2015 and 2025, since some of the women who would be prevented from accessing later abortion care would go on to give birth — incurring health care costs that would be partially absorbed by the federal program.