WASHINGTON – The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the federation of 50 state right-to-life affiliates and more than 3,000 local chapters, today reaffirmed its commitment to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and vowed to continue seeking the bill’s passage in the 114th Congress.
National Right to Life President Carol Tobias said, “The House of Representatives did not pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act this week because certain lawmakers who voted for the same language in 2013, and who had promised their pro-life constituents that they would do so again, instead worked to weaken the bill or to prevent it from coming to the floor.”
“While we are profoundly disappointed that the vote on the bill was delayed, we much prefer delaying the vote to passing a greatly weakened bill,” Tobias said. “We thank the House Republican leadership for quickly facilitating passage of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7) which is another National Right to Life legislative priority.” The House passed H.R. 7 today by a vote of 242-179.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36) would generally protect unborn children from abortion beginning at 20 weeks fetal age, based on medical evidence that by that point, if not earlier, the unborn child experiences pain when subjected to dismemberment or other late abortion methods.
“Pro-life citizens across the nation are sharply disappointed with those lawmakers who violated commitments to constituents and derailed a bill to protect babies in the sixth month and later, a bill with broad popular support,” Tobias said. “In some cases these actions were apparently dictated mainly by inordinate concern with political correctness and garnering favorable coverage from the mainstream news media. Some of these lawmakers may ultimately conclude that they were ill advised to sacrifice the trust of their pro-life constituents so egregiously.”
Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) played the most visible public role in the successful campaign to stymie action on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act – even though she voted to pass exactly the same bill language on June 18, 2013. In an interview with National Journal (Jan. 16), Ellmers suggested that voting on the bill would turn off millennials (even though some polls show particularly strong support for the ban in that age cohort). A Jan. 21 interview in Business Weekquoted Ellmers as saying, “We should not be looking back in history, we should be looking forward.” On Jan. 20, Ellmers personally went to the House floor to withdraw her cosponsorship of the bill. Yet on Jan. 22 she told The Weekly Standard that she would vote to pass the bill with or without language that she preferred, noting, “I have a very pro-life district…”
Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) also withdrew her cosponsorship on January 20, yet continued to affirm to constituents that she would vote to pass the bill (as she had in 2013).
National Journal reported (Jan. 21): “Tellingly, Rep. Marsha Blackburn [(R-Tenn.)]. . . gave an impassioned speech in [the House Republican] conference, noting that because of the rape clause, the GOP was again fumbling over this sensitive subject instead of talking about other issues, according to sources in the meeting.” Yet in April 2014, Blackburn said in writing on a signed questionnaire submitted to National Right to Life that she supported virtually identical language pertaining to the reporting of sexual crimes – applied throughout pregnancy.
As introduced in the 114th Congress, the operative text of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36) was identical to H.R.1797, which the House approved on June 18, 2013, by a vote of 228-196. Both the 2013 and 2015 bills contained identical language, allowing abortions after 20 weeks fetal age (about the beginning of the sixth month) in situations of life endangerment, or if “the pregnancy is the result of rape, or the result of incest against a minor, if the rape has been reported at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency, or if the incest against a minor has been reported at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency or to a government agency legally authorized to act on reports of child abuse or neglect.”
“National Right to Life remains committed to working for real protections for unborn babies and to passage of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” said Tobias.