Protesters gathered outside the office of U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers on Thursday to urge the Congresswoman to act on anti-abortion legislation that was pulled from an expected vote.
Ellmers played a key role in delaying the bill, which would ban abortions at 20 weeks and later, and has been swept up in a storm of concern about her effort.
Ellmers and a spokeswoman said the Republican lawmaker from Dunn was mainly concerned about a requirement in the bill that a woman would have to report rape or incest to police before it could be a legal exception to the ban. Ellmers said she wants the bill tweaked so that requirement is removed, according to the Washington Examiner.
Ellmers told the National Journal earlier that the politics weren’t right, either, for the House to take up an abortion bill early on in the term, suggesting a more careful vetting of legislation that might be viewed as harsh on women or young people.
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“When we come off as harsh and judgmental, we stop that conversation and we’ve got to learn to be doing a better job,” she said.
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life, an anti-abortion group, led about 75 protesters outside Ellmers’ office in Washington. They were angry that Ellmers objected and that the House leadership canceled a vote on the bill. It was to coincide with an annual March for Life in Washington.
“Young people are pro-life,” Hawkins said. “This generation is pro-life.”
Ellmers on Thursday said she’s working with other House members to get a revised late-term abortion bill ready for a vote.
The House on Thursday passed a different abortion bill, H.R. 7, that would permanently ban federal funding for abortions. Currently Congress has to renew the prohibition annually.
“I am proud to vote in favor H.R. 7 as it is conservative legislation that advances the pro-life cause and guarantees that no taxpayer dollars are spent funding abortion. Additionally, I will continue working with all of my colleagues to address our concerns with language in H.R. 36 (the bill that would ban abortions at 20 weeks or more with some exceptions). Our goal is to find a way to get this legislation in its best possible form, and I remain fully committed to bringing this legislation to the House floor for a vote,” Ellmers said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
Jill Stanek, a nurse and blogger from Chicago, said she was “beyond incensed when Rep. Ellmers led the charge to block this bill.” She put out Facebook and Twitter notices about the protest.