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July 3, 2015

Posts in "Abortion"

May 13, 2015

‘Pain-Capable’ Abortion Bill Passes House (Video)

Cathy McMorris Rodgers

McMorris Rodgers helped rally GOP support for the revised 20-week abortion ban bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After months of delays, House Republicans passed a bill Wednesday that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy — except in cases of rape, incest or threat to the mother’s life.

The bill, which passed 242-184 along mostly party lines, was pulled in late January after a number of Republican women protested a rape-reporting requirement, calling it insensitive to rape survivors who did not immediately report a sexual assault. Originally, the bill required that a rape be reported to law enforcement officials for women to be exempt from the 20-week limit. That provision was removed but, as a compromise, the bill now requires rape victims to receive counseling and face a 48-hour waiting period before getting an abortion after 20 weeks. Full story

May 10, 2015

House to Consider 20-Week Abortion Ban This Week

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 9: Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., leaves the House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A new version of Rep. Trent Franks’ abortion bill returns this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans are aiming to reconsider this week the so-called “pain capable” abortion bill, which would prohibit abortions, in most cases, after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill was pulled in late January after a number of Republican women pushed back against the legislation, particularly the provisions requiring women to have reported rape to law enforcement to be eligible for an abortion after 20 weeks. Leaders haven’t released the final language of the bill, but they seemingly have worked out the issues — though it wouldn’t exactly be the first time they’ve miscalculated where the conference is on the issue.

Full story

January 22, 2015

What the House GOP’s Abortion Bill About-Face Really Means

Ellmers, R-N.C., questions HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius during her testimony before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in Rayburn Building on the failures of Affordable Care Act's enrollment website. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ellmers and other Republican women had concerns about the way the 20-week abortion ban was written. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A significant contingent of women and moderate members of the House Republican Conference prevailed Wednesday, convincing GOP leadership that the political blowback for voting to ban abortions after 20 weeks could far outweigh any favor curried with the anti-abortion base of the party.

It wasn’t clear Thursday whether the decision to swap out the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” for less controversial legislation to prohibit taxpayer funding for abortion services signaled a permanent shift back toward the middle for House Republicans. Full story

January 14, 2015

Abortion Bill Co-Sponsoring Debacle ‘Vexing’ for Democrat

Smith, D-Wash., speaks during the Democratic members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi news conference on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Adam Smith. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Co-sponsoring a bill in Congress doesn’t really mean all that much. But — maybe — it ought to at least mean a member has agreed to sign on, and will actually sign.

At least, that’s the argument Washington Democrat Adam Smith made on the House floor Wednesday. Full story

December 9, 2014

Lawmakers Release Massive ‘Cromnibus’ 2 Days Ahead of Shutdown

With roughly 51 hours left before the government runs out of cash, lawmakers released the text Tuesday night of a massive 289,861-word, $1.013 trillion bill to keep federal agencies running past Dec. 11.

The spending package, a carefully negotiated piece of legislation between the Republican House and Democratic Senate, would fund the vast majority of government operations through September with the notable exception of the Department of Homeland Security.

Republicans, frustrated by President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, want to tighten the purse strings on the DHS, which the bill funds only to Feb. 27. DHS is the agency charged with carrying out much of the president’s immigration orders. Full story

May 7, 2014

Congresswoman Wants Dobson to Apologize for Calling Obama ‘Abortion President’

Hahn (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Hahn (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Dr. James Dobson should apologize for referring to President Barack Obama as “the abortion president” at last week’s National Day of Prayer, says Rep. Janice Hahn, who walked out of the event in protest.

The California congresswoman sent a letter to Dobson, a talk show host and author, taking issue with the May 1 remarks at the event.

Hahn, who served as a co-chairwoman of the National Prayer Breakfast in February and oversees, with Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, a congressional prayer breakfast for colleagues each week, took issue with Dobson’s political commentary and walked out in the middle of his speech.

Full story

May 1, 2014

Janice Hahn Walks Out of Prayer Gathering to Protest Dobson’s ‘Abortion President’ Remarks

Hahn (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Hahn (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Janice Hahn just wanted to hear evangelist Billy Graham’s daughter speak at Thursday’s National Day of Prayer gathering on Capitol Hill, but she ended up storming out of the room before that portion of the program could get underway.

The California Democrat said she was appalled by the remarks of Dr. James Dobson, saying she felt he went against the event’s stated nonpartisan and apolitical intent by bashing Barack Obama and calling him the “abortion president.”

“We have this annual, national day of prayer, which is supposed to bring the whole country together to pray for our nation, and typically you put politics aside and you come together,” Hahn told CQ Roll Call. “James Dobson just absolutely violated that, and I really think he did damage to what we try to do up here in Washington, D.C.”

Full story

By Emma Dumain Posted at 5:10 p.m.

January 22, 2014

House to Vote Next Week on Abortion Ban Bill

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:45 p.m. | The House will vote next week on legislation to bar federal funding for abortions, Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced on Wednesday.

The Virginia Republican said he had scheduled the bill for floor consideration during his address to the assembled crowd at the annual March for Life, which coincided with the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in the United States.

“We will do everything in our power to make sure that our values on the sanctity of life will be reflected,” Cantor said to a thunder of applause.

The bill also would bar the District of Columbia from spending its local funds on abortion services for low-income women.

Given the House schedule next week, the vote on the bill will have to take place on either Jan. 27 or Jan. 28. President Barack Obama is set to deliver his State of the Union address the night of Jan. 28, and on the morning of Jan. 29, the House recesses to allow for the Republican Conference retreat in Cambridge, Md.

Republican leadership is moving quickly on the legislation, which just last week passed on a party-line vote out of the House Judiciary Committee. Democrats and abortion-rights groups protested the panel markup, flooding the halls of the Rayburn House Office Building outside the hearing room.

In order to ensure passage of the bill by a simple majority, the Rules Committee intends to meet on Monday, Jan. 27, to provide for floor consideration of the legislation on Tuesday, Jan. 28. Had the measure been placed on the suspension calendar for expedited consideration, the outcome would have been less certain: With nearly all Democrats expected to vote “no,” the necessary two-thirds majority vote threshold might not have been achievable.

January 15, 2014

Democratic Women Clog Rayburn Hallway to Protest Anti-Abortion Bill

Close to 100 people, some waving orange index cards asking, “Where are the women?” crowded the hallway outside the House Judiciary Committee room in the Rayburn Office Building on Wednesday morning.

Among those waving the tiny signs were Democratic committee members Judy Chu of California and Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. They stood alongside female colleagues and abortion rights protesters for a makeshift protest of the markup of a bill to restrict funding for the procedure.

“It’s increasingly evident that the only women’s agenda that the Republicans have put forward is to take away your health care rights and then tell you to get lost,” said Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y., who criticized the fact that there are no female members of the committee’s GOP majority. She vowed to take the issue up with House leadership.

From left, Rep. Judy Chu, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y., participate in a news conference outside of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to protest the House Judiciary Committee markup of legislation to restrict abortion funding. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

From left, Chu, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Slaughter participate in a news conference outside of the House Judiciary Committee to protest the markup of legislation to restrict abortion funding. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Full story

December 9, 2013

Ellmers Responds to Criticism Over Comments on ‘War on Women’

CQ Roll Call File Photo/Tom Williams

CQ Roll Call File Photo/Tom Williams

Rep. Renee Ellmers remains defiant after Democrats slammed her over the weekend for calling the 2010 health care law the real “war on women.”

In an interview with CQ Roll Call on Monday, the North Carolinian and chairwoman of the Republican Women’s Policy Committee said she wasn’t surprised by the blowback.

“[Democrats’] mindset is that the only issues that women care about have to do with their bodies … where the only thing women care about are free contraception and whether or not they have the right to have an abortion,” said Ellmers, who opposes abortion rights. “As Republicans, we know women in this country are so concerned with the path that we’re on right now and so many other issues, health being one of them. Control over our bodies being one of them.”

Ellmers also fired back at Democrats’ argument that the health law has expanded women’s access to preventive health services such as mammograms and colonoscopies.

“What Democrats fail to mention is now the cost of insurance is skyrocketing, many times quadrupling, in cost, and deductibles are going up by thousands and thousands of dollars. When they’re talking about free, preventative care for women, I’m having a hard time understanding where the ‘free’ part is,” Ellmers said.

She called Democratic messaging “a disservice to women in this country.”

Ellmers’ remarks came as she gave the GOP’s weekly address to the American people.

“If you want to talk about a ‘war on women,’ look no further than this health care law,” she said.

She continued: Full story

June 24, 2013

Trent Franks Says He Sidelined Himself on Abortion Bill

Rep. Trent Franks decided on his own to lower his profile after he provoked a firestorm by saying it is rare for women to become pregnant as a result of rape, he told CQ Roll Call.

When the bill he offered banning abortions after 20 weeks came to the floor last week, the Arizona Republican sat on the sidelines while Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., led the floor debate in his stead. Franks told CQ Roll Call that it was his choice and said it wasn’t forced on him by leadership.

“Here’s what I did,” Franks told CQ Roll Call on June 20. “When I heard the question was being considered about who to manage the bill, I went to leadership and said, ‘Let me make this very easy for you. I want to do what’s right for the cause and I think it’s very reasonable for women of this conference to take the lead.'”

Franks was the obvious choice to manage time on the House floor until he fumbled over his words at the Judiciary Committee markup of the bill a week earlier. He had meant to say, he said, that it is rare for pregnant women who have been raped to seek abortions after six months.

The choice of Blackburn — who is not a member of the Judiciary Committee — struck critics as a manipulative ploy to score political points after Franks’ incendiary comments. No House GOP stalwarts spoke out publicly against Franks, but the decision to exclude him from any participation in floor debate felt awkward at best. Franks sat quietly in the chamber for the entirety of the debate, looking as if he had been placed in the time-out chair.

But Franks said he was glad to step aside to let GOP women take the lead: “I was totally fine with it, because I believe that I was serving the cause the best I could, which is my fundamental purpose.

“I have no doubts the comments would have been a distraction,” Franks continued. “But in trying to take away their ability to distract from the issue, I think, was the right thing for the issue, the clarity of the debate and the protection of mothers and their unborn children. … It was always the intent of our opponents; I just wish I hadn’t assisted them so adroitly.”

Asked which member of leadership he spoke to, Franks said it was either Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio; Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.; or Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Aides for all three could not confirm.

June 21, 2013

GOP Women Seek Broader Influence With Policy Committee

When Rep. Renee Ellmers talks about what needs to happen to secure the future of the GOP, she tells a story she heard from a staffer who, while packing up the district campaign office after the 2012 elections, stopped to chat with a passer-by.

“The woman said, ‘I’m really glad your boss won,'” Ellmers recalled. “‘But I’m really glad I got to keep my woman’s rights.’

“And that really struck me,” the North Carolina Republican continued, “because it told me that there are women in this country, even in my own hometown, who do not think the Republican Party cares about women, that they would lose their women’s rights if they had a Republican president. … And I thought, ‘That’s really dangerous.'”

Ellmers is one of only 19 women in the House Republican Conference, but as the chairwoman of the burgeoning Republican Women’s Policy Committee she is making it her mission to mobilize her colleagues to prove the party is not just filled with “graying, older white men,” as she said in a recent interview.

Full story

By Emma Dumain Posted at 2:16 p.m.
Abortion, GOP Brand

June 18, 2013

Trent Franks Sidelined as Abortion Ban Passes House

The House on Tuesday evening voted 228-196 on legislation banning abortion after 20 weeks — with the bill’s champion conspicuously absent from the debate.

The sidelining of bill sponsor Trent Franks, R-Ariz., was a clear signal of the extent to which Republican leadership found itself forced to undertake significant damage control after last week’s Judiciary Committee markup of the bill, when Franks kicked off a firestorm by saying “the instance of rape resulting in pregnancy is very low.”

He later said he had misspoken and was then taken out of context by his Democratic critics, and in an interview with CQ Roll Call he said he had not received any admonishment from senior members of his party.

But late last week, Republican leaders confirmed that Franks — the obvious choice to manage floor debate for Republicans on a bill he introduced — had been replaced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

He sat quietly on the House floor during proceedings, and his office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Leadership and Judiciary Committee aides declined to offer explanation.

And reeling from criticism that there are no Republican women assigned to serve on the Judiciary Committee, women of the GOP dominated floor debate.

“I’m so honored to be joined by pro-life women as we have discussed this issue, as we have come together,” Blackburn said in closing remarks Tuesday.

When asked on Monday why she had been approached to manage the bill over Franks, Blackburn told CQ Roll Call that, “it’s always good when a pro-life female comes forward and takes the lead on some of those issues.”

During floor debate, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said, “We’re here because we care about women.”

Democrats appeared cognizant of the Republican strategy on Tuesday and capitalized on their own party’s significant female representation on the Judiciary Committee. They chose panel member Zoe Lofgren of California to manage floor debate on the Democratic side of the aisle and invited many of her committee colleagues to deliver remarks against the legislation.

Lofgren herself also sought to emphasize that contrast, asking at the start of the debate why a committee member was not managing the bill for Republicans in place of Blackburn.

At a later point in the debate, New York Democrat Steve Israel came to the floor to make a “parliamentary inquiry” as to whether Blackburn had been selected “because the Republicans have no women on the Judiciary Committee.”

Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., said Blackburn was chosen at the discretion of the panel.

Though Republicans have been largely silent — at least publicly — about the effect of Franks’ remarks, some GOP members have spoken candidly.

Rep. Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican from Pennsylvania who urged leadership not to bring the bill to the floor and voted against the measure on Tuesday, last week said that Franks’ comments had the “unfortunate effect of branding many Republicans” as those who would make “incendiary” and “uninformed” comments.

On Monday, pro-abortion-rights New York Republican Rep. Richard Hanna said Franks’ remarks were “sad to hear after Todd Akin’s colossal and stupid comment,” referring to the former Missouri GOP congressman’s statement about “legitimate rape” that all but sank his Senate bid against Democrat Claire McCaskill.

Four other Republicans joined Dent and Hanna in opposing the bill, with six Democrats bucking the party line to vote in support of the bill with Republican colleagues.

June 17, 2013

Abortion Bill Faces Veto Threat

The White House threatened Monday to veto the bill heading to the House floor that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks.

“[It] would unacceptably restrict women’s health and reproductive rights and is an assault on a woman’s right to choose,” reads the Statement of Administration Policy. “Women should be able to make their own choices about their bodies and their health care, and Government should not inject itself into decisions best made between a woman and her doctor.

“This bill is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade and shows contempt for women’s health and rights, the role doctors play in their patients’ health care decisions, and the Constitution,” the statement continues.

Senior advisers would recommend the president veto the bill if it reaches his desk. That’s short of the “would veto” language the White House sometimes uses. And, of course, this bill has close to zero chance of ever getting to President Barack Obama’s desk, given that it is expected to be dead on arrival in the Senate. Full story

June 14, 2013

Rape, Incest Exceptions Added to Abortion Bill (Updated)

Updated 4:45 p.m. | House Republican leaders have added rape and incest exceptions to Rep. Trent Franks’ bill banning abortions after 20 weeks, two days after a backlash was sparked by the Arizona Republican’s assertion that pregnancies from rape are rare.

The modifications to H.R. 1797, which leaders plan to bring to the floor for debate next week, would allow abortions after 20 weeks if the rape or incest involving a minor has been reported to “appropriate enforcement authorities.”

Republicans on the Judiciary Committee had blocked Democrats’ efforts to add rape and incest exemptions during the Wednesday markup. Franks dismissed those efforts because “the instance of rape resulting in pregnancy is very low.” When the panel reconvened after an hour-long lunch break he sought to clarify that he meant that “pregnancies from rape that result in abortion after the beginning of the sixth month are very rare.”

“I was not addressing when or how a woman becomes pregnant,” Franks said on Thursday evening in an interview with CQ Roll Call, more than 24 hours after Democrats and pro-abortion rights groups seized on the comments and drew up comparisons to ex-Rep. Todd Akin, the Missouri Republican whose remarks about “legitimate rape” helped sink his 2012 Senate bid against Democrat Claire McCaskill.

The decision to add rape and incest exemptions into the bill could be seen as a concession designed to assuage critics in the wake of the fallout from the markup. Prior to the announcement that the measure would be amended, however, Franks said he hadn’t been given any indication he had upset Republican leadership.
Full story

By Emma Dumain and Steven Dennis Posted at 3:27 p.m.

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