Surprise: The House Reps Arguing for Abortion Ban Were Almost All Men


The GOP’s forever war on abortion suffering an embarrassing little hiccup yesterday, when a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks stalled because Republican Congesswomen just flatly refused to get on board. Last night, the House GOP members were forced to abandon the 20-week ban idea, but not before 16 Republicans spoke in favor of the bill. All but one was a man.

The Associated Press reported last night that the 20-week ban idea is being scrapped in favor of a bill that “clarifies” the rules on taxpayer funding for abortion. Actually, the rules are pretty damn clear already, and not especially conducive to getting your abortion covered like any other healthcare procedure: Medicaid does not cover abortion procedures except in the case of life endangerment, rape, or incest. Neither does Obamacare, and many states also have laws against state employees getting abortion care covered through their state-sponsored plans.

But before House GOP members were ready to drop the 20-week ban idea, the Hill reports, 16 of them delivered “special order” speeches from the floor in support of the ban—a lineup, the website reports, that “overwhelmingly featured white men.” Only one Republican Congresswoman, Ann Wagner of Missouri, spoke in favor of the bill. Wagner reminisced about attending the anti-abortion March for Life 25 years ago and called abortion “abhorrent.”

Bill sponsor Trent Franks of Arizona delivered an especially lengthy speech, using as his prop a picture of a TIME magazine cover on saving premature babies. He admitted the bill was “not perfect,” and said the “abortion industry” would be responsible for its downfall, but added, “It is a deeply sincere effort.”

This morning, Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of New York (who’s also Co-Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus) delivered a searing speech attacking the 20-week ban, calling it “odious” and pointing out that even the GOP’s own female members couldn’t stomach it.

The bill that was supposed to come to the floor today, a bill that would have stripped women of their right to constitutionally protected medical care, was so odious and destructive that some women of the Republican conference rebelled against it. It was based on unsound and fictitious science and caused such a meltdown in the Republican Conference that the House Majority pulled it from the floor for fear that it wouldn’t pass, but something had to be done: visitors were coming to town for the anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Roe versus Wade. On this day, there are floods of visitors who are here in the nation’s Capitol to fight against that ruling, to protest that decision, and to raise their clarion call against a woman’s right to choose.

Slaughter also objected to the irregular way that the bill was brought to the floor. It was delivered late at night, she said, and followed virtually none of the normal orders of procedure:

In this current Congress, this bill was not brought to us under regular order. It saw no committee action. It had no hearings, no markups, no witnesses testified in favor or against it, and it came out of the Rules Committee and to the floor today under a closed rule.
This trigger-ready alternative came to us late last night. It seems that the Majority has an endless supply of bills attacking women’s health. Can’t pass this one? Grab another! Can’t pass that one? Grab the next one! Their insistence on attacking women’s health seemingly knows no bounds.

Here’s a video of Slaughter’s full remarks:

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