WASHINGTON -- On the eve of a scheduled House of Representatives vote on a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, Republican leaders canceled the vote and replaced it with a less-controversial abortion limit, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The 20-week ban was assumed by many abortion rights advocates to be a slam-dunk in the Republican-controlled Congress, but it divided the House GOP caucus this week. Some members complained the rape exception in the legislation is too narrow, requiring women to report the crime to the police. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) warned her colleagues that the bill would alienate young voters, who do not want politicians working to limit abortion rights.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), the bill's sponsor, did not respond to a request for comment.
But anti-abortion activists will not walk away empty-handed on Thursday, the anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark abortion rights decision in Roe v. Wade. Instead of voting on the 20-week ban, the House will vote on a bill that prohibits federal funding for abortions -- a less controversial piece of legislation.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said the canceled vote should signal to House Republican leaders that their priorities are too extreme for regular voters.
"These attacks are so dangerous, extreme, and unpopular that House Republicans can't even get their membership lined up behind them," Richards said. "This should be an important message to politicians who continue to ignore the majority of the public who want Congress to focus on policies to move women forwards rather than taking them back."