The House was scheduled to vote on the ban Thursday, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and also the day of the annual anti-choice March for Life event.
But objections from up to two dozen female GOP members about the bill’s too-narrow exception for rape made leadership wary about how it would look to pass an abortion ban with several female GOP “no” votes.
To avoid disappointing the hordes of anti-choice marchers descending on Washington, D.C., for the March for Life, Republicans will pinch-hit with another bill from their deep bench of anti-choice legislation—a bill to restrict federal funding for abortion coverage.
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The bill would not only restrict abortion coverage for low-income women by making the Hyde Amendment permanent, it would also take away tax credits and subsidies from anyone purchasing insurance under the Affordable Care Act that covers abortion care.
It’s unclear how many female GOP “no” votes leadership would have actually seen on the 20-week ban, given that Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), who led the charge to change the ban’s rape exceptions and removed herself as a co-sponsor, said she would have still voted for the bill.
Ellmers said Wednesday on Facebook that the 20-week ban would still have her vote because “I have and will continue to be a strong defender of the prolife community.”
Given that Ellmers had also warned that the party risked turning off young voters by focusing on the abortion ban so soon after taking control of Congress, her concerns seem to have been more about optics and timing than substance.
A senior GOP aide told the Washington Post that concerns about the bill “still need to be worked out,” and Republicans “remain committed to continue working through the process” to successfully pass the unconstitutional 20-week ban, a popular measure among anti-choice lawmakers in many GOP-controlled state legislatures.