Under the Dome

US Rep. Renee Ellmers wavers, then says she will support abortion bill

U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers
U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers

UPDATED U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers says she will support an abortion bill set for a vote in Congress on Thursday after wavering this week and then facing a storm of criticism.

Ellmers had expressed concerns about the bill, saying the politics might not be right to take it up at this time.

Ellmers, a Republican from Dunn, pulled her name as a co-sponsor of the bill on Tuesday, records show, along with U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, an Indiana Republican.

“I have urged leadership to reconsider bringing it up,” Ellmers told National Journal in an interview late last week. “We got into trouble last year, and I think we need to be careful again; we need to be smart about how we’re moving forward.”

Ellmers said the vote doesn’t play to a constituency Republicans are hoping to attract.

“The first vote we take, or the second vote, or the fifth vote, shouldn’t be on an issue where we know that millennials – social issues just aren’t as important [to them],” she said.

The N.C. Values Coalition on Wednesday issued a strong rebuke, calling her actions “bewildering,” “traitorous” and “unthinkable.”

“We are sad to report to you that Congresswoman Renee Ellmers has betrayed the pro-life community,” says the message, posted on the group’s website.

It says Ellmers voted for the same legislation almost two years ago. It also criticizes her for encouraing other House Republicans to withdraw their support. The coalition called on supporters to phone her offices.

Late Wednesday, Ellmers posted to Facebook a one paragraph message: “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.”

She had not taken questions about her position.

The vote on H.R. 36 in the House is expected Thursday on the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the same day that an annual March for Life anti-abortion demonstration occurs in Washington. The bill would ban most abortions for pregnancies of 20 weeks or more.

Politico reports that six GOP congresswomen, including Ellmers, also expressed concerns that the rape exception in the bill is too narrow because it only would only apply to women who have filed police reports. According to statistics from the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, more than two-thirds of sexual assaults go unreported.

Pro-life advocates in North Carolina had previously praised support from North Carolinians in Congress, including the “unwavering” support from the state’s female Republican members of Congress, Ellmers and Rep. Virginia Foxx.

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