GOP abandons anti-abortion bill, angering religious conservatives on Roe anniversary

Anti-abortion demonstrators pray in the hallway outside Senate Majority Leader McConnell's legislative office on Capitol Hill in WashingtonBy DAVID GIBSON
c. 2015 Religion News Service

(RNS) Abortion opponents marking the huge annual March for Life in Washington on Thursday (Jan. 22) and anticipating legislative gains by a Republican-dominated Congress were thrown into disarray after GOP leaders unexpectedly withdrew an anti-abortion bill that had been seen as a done deal.

The bill, called the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” would have banned abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. But concerns over restrictive language on rape exceptions and a potential backlash from women and younger voters prompted some two dozen House Republicans, mainly women, to press party leaders to drop the bill, which they did late Wednesday.

The sudden reversal stunned abortion foes, who had expected to celebrate House passage of the bill as they gathered for their annual demonstration against the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling by the Supreme Court legalizing abortion.

Instead, they were left wondering about the once-promising future of their agenda and organizing protests at the offices of House members they felt betrayed them.

“I am disgusted by this act of moral cowardice,” Russell Moore, spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote, using unusually blunt language. “If the House Republicans cannot pass something as basic as restricting the abortion of five-month, pain-capable unborn children, what can they get done?”

“The Republicans in Congress should come and explain this atrocity to the hundreds of thousands of people gathering here in the nation’s capital to march for life,” Moore said.

“Is it too much to ask the GOP to take a stand against infanticide?” popular author and speaker Eric Metaxas wondered on Twitter. “Did that not focus-group well for them? Do they have ANY core beliefs?”

“Honestly, what is the point of even having a Republican Party? I mean, seriously, what do we gain from it?” tweeted Steve Deace, a Christian radio host in Iowa who is a popular figure among religious conservatives.

The episode was especially vexing to religious conservatives because after years of battling a Democrat in the White House they are hoping to elect a Republican who would — in combination with a GOP-led Congress — finally clear the way for action to limit abortion and perhaps on other issues, such as gay rights.

But first social conservatives have to show party leaders that they are crucial to a Republican victory in 2016.

There were also efforts on Thursday to highlight the passage of a House bill on a different, less contentious — but also far less sweeping — bill to prohibit federal funding of abortions.

Other GOP leaders tried to reassure Christian conservatives that the bill that was spiked this week could be tweaked and might return in another form.

In the meantime, several potential Republican presidential candidates, such as former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, blasted the House move, and in the process, signaled they deserved the support of the crucial conservative Christian bloc.

Jindal called the move “outrageous” and said voters “elected a Republican majority to support the pro-life movement and champion conservative principles.”

Religion News Service

RNS is owned by Religion News LLC, a non-profit, limited liability corporation based at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Its mission is to provide in-depth, non-sectarian coverage of religion, spirituality and ideas.

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
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George Nixon Shuler

Speaking of the use of words and phrases for propaganda purposes, our friend here has just provided an excellent example of far-right agitprop which is counterfactual and farcical. Hey, TEHC, if you really care about so called “babies” then you must be a strong supporter of food stamps and other programs to aid needy families, huh?

George Nixon shuler

then I salute your work even if you are confused about what constitutes a ‘baby”.

George Nixon Shuler

Sorry to disappoint, but, no, it’s not. A baby is a newborn person. Birth must occur for anyone to be so designated. Any concept otherwise only provides a convenient excuse for woman hatred and slut-shaming.

George Nixon Shuler

Amanda Marcotte over at Raw Story has solid evidence the mislabeled “Pro-Life” movement should really be called the Sex Police”. A sample: “The “true love” and “true romance” thing is how anti-choicers try to wriggle out of accusations that they are anti-sex. The argument is basically that they are all for sex, if you are doing it “right”. “Right” is very narrowly defined: No kink, no contraception, and only with one person for your entire life. And sex can never be a priority. If you’re sexually incompatible with your partner or you’re getting a little bored with the under-the-covers-in-the-dark routine,… Read more »


This is yet case another showing how language is manipulated to cast semantic aspersions on pro-lifers before their case is even presented. If someone desires to disallow abortions only after 5 months, and only if there is no health risk to the mother, then how in the world can that not be characterized as “pro-life” rather than “anti-abortion?”

George Nixon Shuler

“Pro-Life” is a market-tested advertising slogan which does not mean what those who characterize themselves as such want it to mean, as slick political operatives who claim its mantle have stood behind war, the death penalty, and economic realities which facilitate poverty. One could perhaps make similar extrapolations about “pro-choice,” which is also a self-labeled advertising slogan but somewhat less cynical. As to the question, news reports are under no obligation to conform to political correctness. We don’t call Kim Jung Un “Beloved Leader.” You posit, ” If someone desires to disallow abortions only after 5 months…” to advocate for… Read more »

George Nixon Shuler

Since the mid-1970s, much of GOP growth in Red States – and decline in Blue States – has been due to this and other social issues. Of course, if abortion law was a settled matter in the body politic, it would not be there to exploit. Hence, except for a few zealots who are one tamale short of a #2 dinner, most Republican officeholders have had the intention of doing as little as possible about these issues, both to string along those voters who think they will, and because they really don’t want to anyway (too many of them have… Read more »

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