Despite retaining majority-control in the U.S. House of Representatives last November -- a legislative body now hailed as historically pro-life -- the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act won’t even be introduced this week as expected.
Given the symbolism of today (it is the annual March for Life in our nation's capital) pro-lifers hoped the bill would, once again, pass the lower chamber and finally be on its way to the president’s desk. Instead, a number of key Republican lawmakers completely abandoned ship last night:
Mark it down as a rare win for House GOP moderates. After scrambling into the evening on Wednesday, House Republican leaders decided to scrap a vote on a controversial anti-abortion measure scheduled to coincide with an annual gathering of anti-abortion advocates on Thursday because they couldn't round up enough support.
Two senior House GOP aides tell CNN that after discussions with members on Wednesday night they are no longer voting on the late-term abortion bill and are now voting instead on a bill banning taxpayer money for abortions.
"Some concerns were raised by men and women members that still need to be worked out," one of the aides told CNN. "Tomorrow we will vote to advance the pro-life cause and remain committed to continue working through the process on pain capable to make sure it too is successful."
But how on earth could the bill lack "enough support" if it's (a) already passed the House once and (b) Republicans still control the chamber? That makes zero sense. Over at Redstate, Erick Erickson is exceedingly unhappy with these developments and is therefore not giving Republicans a pass, calling out individual lawmakers for their deception and dishonesty:
The measure is identical to the legislation passed in 2013. But this time, with a chance of passing both the House and Senate, Congresswoman Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) worked [tirelessly] to scuttle the legislation then had the temerity to claim she actually would vote for if only it would come to the floor.
Ellmers, according to multiple sources, persuaded a number of women in the House Republican Conference to walk away from the bill to ensure it could not pass. Then she declared she’d vote for it once she was sure it could not pass.
How courageous. Evidently opposition to the bill, from pro-choice groups and lawmakers, was too great. Meanwhile, LifeNews.com reports that a whopping 84 percent of Americans would support banning the practice of late-term abortion, according to a recent poll. And while most public opinion polls show opposition to the painful procedure is not quite as high, more and more Americans are increasingly coming out against it.
But there is a silver lining for pro-lifers perhaps. Despite the GOP "meltdown" over the bill -- as one Democratic lawmaker put it -- Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) pledged this morning it "will come to the floor" and be voted on soon.
UPDATE: A number of pro-life leaders, including Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, released a joint statement this morning about the tabled bill:
“While we are disappointed that the House will not be voting on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act today, we are pleased that the House is moving forward to stop taxpayer funding of abortion.
“We support Majority Leader McCarthy's call for a prompt vote on Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act this Congress and we will be working with the House Republican leadership to ensure the maximum number of votes. We will also be working with the bill’s sponsor Senator Lindsey Graham to continue advancing this measure in the U.S. Senate. Both the House Leadership and Senator Graham have assured us they are not backing down.
“The results of the 2014 midterm elections made clear that this Congress has been given a direct mandate to protect unborn children and their mothers from late term abortion, stop taxpayer funding of abortion, and defend conscience rights. There are no issues more urgent for the American people who brought the 114th Congress into being and we look forward to a strong and unprecedented sequence of actions for life.”