U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers has written an online essay to explain why she opposed a requirement in an abortion-ban bill last month, and to say that she's "appalled by the abhorrent and childish behavior" of some anti-abortion group leaders.
Ellmers wrote that she is opposed to abortion. "As a mother, a wife, and a devout Catholic, protecting life is a mission that is very near and dear to my heart." Her commentary, posted on her website Friday, was the first direct response from the Republican congresswoman from Dunn since she opposed part of a bill banning abortions at 20 weeks in mid-January and officially withdrew her support for the bill on Jan. 20.
Ellmers wrote that she and some other lawmakers objected to a requirement in the bill that a rape must be reported to police before the woman could receive an exemption from the ban.
The N.C. Values Coalition and others criticized Ellmers for objecting to the requirement and for a delay in the legislation. Leaders in the U.S. House abruptly withdrew the bill from a vote that had been scheduled for Jan. 22, to coincide with the annual March for Life in Washington.
"While we must continue to provide a voice for the voiceless, we must also show compassion to women when they are in the midst of a crisis, especially victims of rape - and it is my belief that the mandatory police reporting provision relating to rape within the bill would have hindered our ability to do that," Ellmers wrote.
She criticized both the House Republican leadership and anti-abortion groups, but not by name.
She said she complained about the requirement to the leadership, but that Republican leaders didn't address her concerns and instead pulled the bill off the House floor the night before the scheduled vote.
"Additionally, I am appalled by the abhorrent and childish behaviors from some of the leaders of the outside groups," she wrote.
Her criticism on that point generated Internet responses against her on Monday.
"I have to ask Rep. Ellmers: Since when is it 'abhorrent' to stand up for life?" Cortney O'Brien wrote on TownHall.com, stirring up a lengthy list of comments against Ellmers.
Ellmers wrote that her goal was to bring the bill up for a vote "in its best possible form." She also suggested that more compassion would help.
"Having served as a nurse for over 21 years, I have witnessed firsthand how fragile and delicate our lives are, and as a mother, I know how special and wonderful a new little life is," she wrote. "It is my ultimate hope that we strengthen the pro-life community and that we do so through the embodiment of compassion - we need to personify compassion and use it to empower women who find themselves in the midst of a heart-wrenching crisis."