Abortion opponents—marking the annual March for Life in Washington and anticipating legislative gains in the Republican-dominated Congress—were thrown into disarray when GOP leaders unexpectedly withdrew an anti-abortion bill they considered 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 about two dozen House Republicans, mainly women, to press party leaders to drop the bill.
The sudden reversal stunned abortion foes. They expected to celebrate House passage of the bill during their annual demonstration against the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion.
Instead, they were left wondering about the once-promising future of their agenda and organizing protests at the offices of House members they feel betrayed them.
“I am disgusted by this act of moral cowardice,” Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, wrote. “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.
Some GOP leaders tried to reassure Christian conservatives the bill that could be tweaked and might return in another form.