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Obama Threatens 20-Week Abortion Ban Veto as Two GOP Congresswomen Withdraw Support

Emily Crockett

The White House called HR 36 "an assault on a woman's right to choose" and a "direct challenge to the Supreme Court’s holdings on abortion," such as Roe v. Wade.

The White House issued a statement Tuesday, hours before President Obama is scheduled to give his State of the Union address to Congress, affirming that Obama’s senior advisers will recommend that he veto a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation nationwide.

Also on Tuesday, two Republican congresswomen, Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN), asked to be removed as co-sponsors of the legislation.

The White House called HR 36 “an assault on a woman’s right to choose” and a “direct challenge to the Supreme Court’s holdings on abortion,” such as Roe v. Wade. 

The basis for the bill is “scientifically disputed,” the White House said, and its requirement that rape or incest victims report the crime to police “demonstrates a complete disregard for the women who experience sexual assault and the barriers they may face in reporting.”

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Ellmers and several other GOP women lawmakers also found the narrow rape exception onerous, raising objections and insisting on changes to the bill on that basis in a closed-door meeting of House Republicans.

All but one committee head in the GOP-controlled House are men.

But those objections didn’t go as far as opposing the unconstitutional abortion ban itself. As the National Journal reports, Ellmers worried that voting on the bill too soon could alienate millennials who were less concerned about “social issues,” and that Republicans “need to be smart about how we’re moving forward.”

It’s unclear how Ellmers and Walorski removing themselves as co-sponsors will affect the bill’s chances of passage in the House. Other GOP congresswomen are still signed on, and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) was the first co-sponsor when Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) introduced it.

Regardless, the bill stands uncertain chances of getting the 60 votes it would need in the Senate to overcome a filibuster, and Obama’s veto threat almost ensures that the ban won’t become law in this Congress.

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