House Republicans were forced to abandon their own abortion bill last night.
Why? Because they couldn’t reach a consensus on whether or not the Pain Capable Unborn Child Act should tackle the issue of rape.
Congressional Republicans will insist that rape isn’t a sticking point, but it clearly is. Senator Lindsey Graham pleaded with activists at the Family Research Council’s ProLifeCon this morning to move beyond the “definitional problem of rape.”
“I’m going to do more than bring my bill up. I’m going to need your help to find a way out of this definitional problem of rape,” Graham said. “We just need to find a consensus position on the rape exception. The rape exception will be part of the bill. That’s the Hyde position. We just need to find a way, definitionally, to not get us in a spot about where we’re debating what legitimate rape is. That’s not the cause that we’re in. We’re not here debating legitimate rapes. We’re here talking about saving babies at 20 weeks.”
The problem is we are “in a spot” where we’re “debating what legitimate rape is.”
The “pro-life” absolutists believe there should be no exceptions under any circumstances and, even beyond that, not all of them can agree on what does or does not constitute rape.
There are two different debates occurring simultaneously: should we have a rape exception in our abortion and, if so, what qualifies as rape?
Republicans politicians may not want to have that debate again while heading into a presidential primary season, but it isn’t going away. Congressional Republicans are avoiding the issue, at least for a short period of time, by dropping the Pain Capable Unborn Child Act.
Instead of passing the Pain Capable Unborn Child Act, House Republicans have instead elected to pass a bill reaffirming the Hyde Amendment ban on federal funding for abortions. President Obama has pledged to veto either bill should they pass the Senate and make it to his desk.
Do not forget that Congressional Republicans spent the first weeks of the current session of Congress focused on abortion. Abortion is clearly urgent business, at least for them.