House Republicans' Late-Term Abortion Debacle

Posted: Jan 22, 2015 2:00 PM

Dan covered the basics of last night's collapse, which (a) dealt a humiliating procedural black eye to the historically large House Republican majority, and (b) stirred angry howls of betrayal from pro-lifers who worked hard to elect said majority.  Worse still, the two female members whose objections to language in a bill banning most abortions after five months of pregnancy were both elected as pro-life candidates.  By scuttling the vote at the eleventh hour, they managed to hand the Left and their heavily pro-choice media pals a handy narrative about Republicans being too extreme even for the women in their own party.  Quite a feat.  The chamber instead easily passed a less controversial anti-abortion measure, with many members vowing to resurrect the '20 week' legislation as soon as possible.  Press reports suggest that dissension among certain elements of the GOP caucus stemmed from concerns about the verbiage dealing with the rape exception in the proposed law, with other representatives getting cold feet about alienating female voters.  On the first point, it is hugely embarrassing that Republicans couldn't iron out these differences and strike an acceptable compromise privately.  Instead, leadership was sandbagged by a public fight.  Also, Congresswoman Renee Ellmers -- one of the ringleaders of the group that forced the bill off the agenda this week -- vocally supported a virtually identical measure in 2013.  Hmm.  As for members wringing their hands about how provocative this controversial bill might be, they must be actively ignorant of public opinion on this issue.  Prior to entering a legislative fight against hardcore, deep-pocketed special interests on the other side, Republicans should have taken great care to ensure that their members were, at a bare minimum, equipped with the following facts:

(1) According to a new nationwide poll conducted by Marist College, fully 84 percent of Americans support outlawing abortions after the first three months of pregnancy, with 59 percent favoring a more comprehensive ban with very limited or no exceptions.  That number aligns with other mainstream polling we've discussed in recent years.  A CBS News poll from late 2014 found that 60 percent of Americans say the practice of abortion should either be outlawed or more strictly limited than it is today.

(2) Late-term abortion prohibitions are widely popular.  A Quinnipiac survey taken in late November found broad-based support for the exact law that was shelved in the House of Representatives.  Respondents said they favored the measure by a gaping 27-point margin.  Another Quinnipiac poll taken during the Wendy Davis saga in Texas revealed that women are more likely than men to support laws placing very heavy restrictions on late term abortions.  Both polls showed strong support for the legislation among all age groups, including young voters.  This proposal doesn't just represent a mainstream view; it represents the solid majority view.

(3) According to the Daily Signal, the United States is one of just seven nations worldwide that permit abortions in the sixth month of pregnancy and beyond -- joining the likes of China and North Korea on the ignominious list.  Our laws are more permissive than those on the books across post-modern Europe.  Our legal abortion regime is far more extreme than the laws in places like France and Germany.  Other civilized societies have recognized that ending a human life in the sixth month of gestation is barbaric and inhumane.  The United States is trying to play catch-up on this fundamental human rights issue, and Congressional Republicans somehow bungled the opening salvo in this important fight.  That's terribly dispiriting, but it's not the last word either.  For what it's worth, I agree with this sentiment:

I'll leave you with this deeply moving pro-life testimony from a woman named Kathleen, and a video from last year's massive March for Life in Washington, DC:

The 2015 march is happening today.