A Republican Anti-Abortion Bill Splits The Party As It Grapples With Trying To Appeal To Millennials & Female Voters

Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators hold a rally on the National Mall before walking to the US Supreme Court during the 41st annual March of Life in Washington, DC, January 22, 2014. Held around the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, the march draws thousands from around the country for a rally on the National Mall before marching up Capitol Hill to the US Supreme Court. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The GOP seems to have a particular knack for alienating young people, women, and minorities. Frankly, the go-to the image of a Republican lawmaker for me is that of an older white man in a suit. But aware of their less-than-stellar reputation among these groups, the party seems to actively want to change that stereotype. This coming Thursday will prove just how willing they are to court different voter groups, as Republicans remain split on an anti-abortion bill vote set to arrive at the House on the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, as some question whether its passage in a GOP-led Congress will further estrange the youth of America — and women.

A faction within the party, led by Rep. Renee Elmers, has been pushing back against the legislation for fear of precisely that. In a closed-door open-mic session of House Republicans, Elmers told her fellow party members that the bill, Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, would cost the GOP millennials' support, according to sources reported by the National Journal. In an interview with the magazine, Elmers said:

I have urged leadership to reconsider bringing it up next week… We got into trouble last year, and I think we need to be careful again; we need to be smart about how we're moving forward. The first vote we take, or the second vote, or the fifth vote, shouldn't be on an issue where we know that millennials — social issues just aren't as important [to them].

This comes on the heels of last Thursday's GOP retreat at which demographer Neil Howe, the man credited with coining the term "millennial," attended, as the party has been pondering tactics to appeal to young voters. 

Although the bill has strong support from most House Republicans, some are concerned about how it might affect those in the party from blue states. That the bill is sponsored by a man, Rep. Trent Franks, has also caused apprehension in the party, reported the National Journal. While we're not unfamiliar with men attempting to police women's bodies and our reproductive rights — remember the ludicrous all-male panel at the committee hearing on contraceptive coverage? — you would think that Republicans don't want to keep repeating known mistakes. 

Female GOP lawmakers are also against some language in the legislation that would require a rape victim to file a police report of the assault, should they wish to qualify for an exemption from the bill's abortion restrictions.

But Franks seems to be confident of the bill's public support. He told the National Journal:

Republicans in general understand that if we should step away from protecting the innocent now, that ultimately nothing will stop our party from sliding into moral and political oblivion. No matter what bait-and-switch tactics or change-the-subject tactics or distortions are used, if sincere people will simply read this bill, they will see for themselves that it represents a genuine and sincere effort to protect babies and their mothers beginning at the sixth month of gestation from one of the most tragic realities in our country.

Because forget poverty, racial inequality, or the plight of millions of immigrants facing deportation from the U.S. — a woman choosing what she wants to do with her own body is the real tragic reality here, isn't it, Franks?

Image: Getty Images (2)

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