Perhaps the best thing that can be said now about the abortion bill revolt last week led by Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., is that she was trying to look at the big picture for her party as it tries to polish its image and attract new voters.
But her efforts have her earned a dubious honor at best, the “Worst Week in Washington” award from The Washington Post Sunday Outlook section. It’s not likely to find a perch on the ubiquitous Capitol Hill brag wall that just about every congressional office proudly displays.
Ellmers, an otherwise anti-abortion conservative lawmaker in good standing, had said that she opposed a stringent provision of a bill to ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy because the GOP’s focus on social issues would turn off millennials.
“Social issues just aren’t as important to” to them,” she told National Journal magazine.
Cases of rape were exempt from the abortion ban, but only if the woman had gone to the police.
Her move, which had the support of other Republican women in the House, as well as men, sent the House GOP leadership into a tizzy. Lots of closed door talks ensued. The leadership ended up pulling the bill, but not before Ellmers herself backtracked and said she would support it, fuzzing up her position even further.
Pro-life supporters were not amused; more like outraged and betrayed. They also just happened to be in town en masse to protest the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion, when Ellmers mounted her rebellion.
Isn’t that what congressional staffers are for?
Now anti-abortion groups are talking about running another Republican next year against Ellmers, who enjoys a 100 percent approval rating from the National Right to Life Committee.
In politics, timing is everything.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post referred to “abortion supporters” in paragraph seven instead of “pro-life supporters.”