Pro-Lifers Tell Congress to Revive the 20-Week Ban

Dannenfelser: ‘A desire to vote to protect life is good. Action is better’

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List / AP
April 23, 2015

Pro-life groups ramped up pressure on lawmakers to pass a 20-week abortion ban on Wednesday, three months after Republican lawmakers refused to take up the bill.

A coalition of pro-life activists released a joint statement, calling on the GOP to make good on its campaign promises of passing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would eliminate late-term abortions that occur after an unborn child develops the ability to feel pain.

"This legislation protects women and their unborn children after 20 weeks, or 5 months of pregnancy, from painful and dangerous late-term abortions. It is a simple, compassionate proposal supported by a large majority of Americans, including women and young people," a coalition statement says.

The remarks were endorsed by the leaders of some of the largest conservative pro-life and women’s groups in the country, including the Susan B. Anthony List, Concerned Women For America, Family Research Council, March for Life, Silent No More Awareness Campaign, National Pro-life Religious Council, Americans United for Life, and Students for Life of America.

They singled out House Republicans for failing to pass the bill after several supporters, including Rep. Renee Ellmers (R., N.C.), withdrew.

"The Senate stands ready to take up this legislation. A vote on this popular, modest bill will serve as a benchmark as to whether the House GOP is serious about protecting unborn babies and women," the statement says.

The bill was supposed to be one of the first passed by Republicans following the 2014 election wave that gave them control of the House and Senate. Instead Ellmers and a handful of GOP lawmakers killed the bill on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision.

Three months later House Republicans are still battling over language regarding reporting requirements in cases of rape and incest. Several House sources told the Washington Free Beacon that the bill does yet have the votes to pass. The bill enjoys 60 percent support from the general public—including 46 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of Independents—according to a recent Quinnipiac poll.

A spokesman for Rep. John Boehner (R., Ohio) said that the Speaker of the House remains committed to the pro-life cause, though a timetable for bringing the bill to a vote is not yet known.

"Boehner is fully committed to the pro-life cause. We are continuing to work with Members to find a way forward on this issue," said Michael Steel, a spokesman.

The pro-life coalition’s letter reflects a change in tone from activists, who have remained largely silent over the past few months as they waited for lawmakers to resuscitate the bill.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the SBA List, which contributed millions of dollars to GOP politicians over the past three cycles, said that she does not question the pro-life bona fides of many House Republicans. But, she said, it is time for those allies to take action, rather than pay lip service to pro-life voters.

"A desire to vote to protect life is good. Action is better. Soon, policy watchers will start to speak of the urgency of impending government funding bills. Prioritizing this vote when it doesn’t feel urgent is true leadership. The urgent should not crowd out the vitally important," she said. "[Pro-life members] should be insisting that we have a vote on a popular, modest limit on abortion after five months. This is something that a resounding majority of Americans support—women in higher number than men."