Calling the behavior of her critics “abhorrent and childish,” Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., a target of attacks from conservative anti-abortion allies since she recently tried to soften the impact of a 20-week abortion ban, fired back in a blog post.
She also got in a not-so-subtle dig at the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives.
Ellmers, in a blog item dated Friday on her official website, said, “As a mother, a wife, and a devout Catholic, protecting life is a mission that is very near and dear to my heart.”
She went on to give her first direct response to questions about why she withdrew her sponsorship of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks.
Ellmers officially pulled her support of the bill on Jan. 20. She was quoted as saying that she didn’t think the legislation would play well with younger voters and that she objected to a requirement that women must report rapes to police in order to get an exception to the ban.
Republican leaders in the House abruptly withdrew the bill from a vote that had been scheduled for Jan. 22, to coincide with the annual March for Life in Washington, after Ellmers and some other Republican female lawmakers, plus a few of their male colleagues, raised concerns about the reporting requirement.
The two North Carolina groups on Monday did not respond to request for comment on Ellmers’ blog post.
“While we must continue to provide a voice for the voiceless, we must also show compassion to women when they are in the midst of a crisis, especially victims of rape – and it is my belief that the mandatory police reporting provision relating to rape within the bill would have hindered our ability to do that,” Ellmers wrote.
She said she’d complained about the requirement to the leadership, but that Republican leaders didn’t address her concerns and instead pulled the bill off the House floor the night before the scheduled vote.
Her latest comments drew another round of criticism via the Internet on Monday.
J. Michael Bitzer, a professor of political science at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C., said that only part of Ellmers’ constituents were furious.
“Social evangelical conservatives would be none too pleased,” he said. “But I think what she may be looking at is not just from a narrow ideological perspective, but how does this play out in a larger sense among the general populace. If she’s representing suburban women in the Research Triangle, they’re not going to have the same adamancy about this issue that the social conservatives would have.”
The bill also has no immediate chance of becoming law, Bitzer added. “They of course could probably get it through the House, but there’s a question about the Senate and it’s going to be DOA at the White House,” he said.
Ellmers wrote that her goal was to bring the bill up for a vote “in its best possible form.” She also suggested that more compassion would help.
“Having served as a nurse for over 21 years, I have witnessed firsthand how fragile and delicate our lives are, and as a mother I know how special and wonderful a new little life is,” she wrote. “It is my ultimate hope that we strengthen the pro-life community and that we do so through the embodiment of compassion – we need to personify compassion and use it to empower women who find themselves in the midst of a heart-wrenching crisis.”