The evening before the anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade decision, Republican leaders Wednesday night decided to cancel the vote on the anti-abortion bill that would enact a ban on abortions after 20 weeks. Although, yes, it's great news for women that this bill won't be voted on right now, it was likely a decision made not because the GOP has changed its mind, but rather an act of self-preservation. Republicans were split on whether or not to vote on the abortion ban because it would cause women and millennials to distance themselves from the party even further.
Now, of course, they're not letting the whole abortion issue go. Instead of voting on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the House will instead vote on a bill that would ban using taxpayer money for abortions. A senior GOP aide told CNN:
Some concerns were raised by men and women members that still need to be worked out. Tomorrow we will vote to advance the pro-life cause and remain committed to continue working through the process on pain capable to make sure it too is successful.
It was mainly women in the House who led the charge to stop the vote from happening Thursday. North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers urged the party to reconsider the vote because they need to "be smart" about how they're moving forward in terms of millennial support, though she later tweeted that she would vote in support of the bill. One of the biggest concerns of the bill was the legislation within regarding victims of rape. The bill, which would allow abortions after 20 weeks in the case of rape, would require women to make a police report, which honestly is a reminder that some people only believe in a certain kind of rape — the kind usually committed by a violent stranger in a dark alley. That part of the bill is reminiscent of Congressman Todd Akin's asinine statements about "legitimate rape."
Obama threatened to veto the anti-abortion bill if it made its way to his desk, saying it would "unacceptably restrict women’s health and reproductive rights and is an assault on a woman’s right to choose." Many women's advocacy organizations agreed and were obviously thrilled at the news. Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro Choice America, said in a statement on its website:
The GOP drafted a bill so extreme and so out of touch with the voters that even their own membership could not support it. That being said, shifting from one bill to restrict a women's ability to make her own health care choices to another will not solve this political problem for the GOP.
Though the decision might not have been made because it's the best decision for women, at least the GOP is recognizing that extreme legislation such as this is beginning to alienate those within the party itself.