- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Facing yet another internal division, Republican leaders night scratched a planned Thursday vote on a bill banning abortions at 20 weeks and replaced it with a bill designed to eliminate taxpayer funding for abortions.

Republicans announced the change Wednesday night, adjusting the schedule — though they vowed to bring the 20-week ban back at some point, once they work out some snags.

“It’ll be up on the floor soon. We are working through a few bits of text,” said Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican who is a leader in the pro-life movement and chief sponsor of the taxpayer funding bill.

GOP leaders are eager to try to pass some abortion restrictions through the House on Thursday because it’s the same day as the annual March for Life, timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision establishing a national right to abortion.

The 20-week abortion ban bill, titled the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” would have established a national ban on abortions after 20 weeks, which is the time at which the bill declared fetuses are able to feel pain.

The legislation included limited exceptions for pregnancies that were the result of rape or incest or that were necessary to prevent the mother’s life from being endangered. But the rape and incest exceptions only applied to reported cases of those sex crimes.

Winning passage of that legislation had been a priority of pro-life groups, but divisions within the GOP appeared to have doomed it. Two Republican women who signed onto the legislation two weeks ago withdrew as sponsors of the bill on Tuesday.

Democrats said the episode showed Republicans are in disarray.

“The bill led to a meltdown in your conference, and you realized you couldn’t get even a simple majority on the House floor,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, Massachusetts Democrat, who said the GOP was suffering for speeding the original bill to the floor without putting it through the usual committee process.

Now, the bill the House will vote on Thursday is designed to push back against parts of Obamacare that Republicans say can still allow taxpayer funds to pay for federally-backed health plans that cover abortion.

A similar bill passed the House in 2014 on a 227-188 vote.


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