Updated at 7:30 a.m. Jan. 23 with comment from Herrera Beutler:
WASHINGTON — The anti-abortion bill yanked from a floor vote in the House Thursday still has the support of the chamber’s highest-ranking Republican woman.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane reiterated her support for the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which bars terminating pregnancies after the 20th week of gestation, a day after several of her female GOP colleagues helped scuttle a scheduled vote.
The lawmakers, led by Reps. Rene Ellmers, R-N.C., and Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., had warned of potentially alienating moderate voters.
Instead, the Republican-controlled House on Thursday took up a separate measure to prohibit use of federal tax dollars to fund elective abortions. That bill passed 242-179.
All four Republicans from Washington voted for it; all six Democrats voted no, including Rep. Suzan DelBene of Medina, who denounced the bill as injecting “ideology into personal medical decisions.”
On Thursday, a spokeswoman reiterated McMorris Rodgers’ support for the yanked bill. That measure passed with overwhelming GOP support in 2013, though it’s unlikely to garner the 60 votes necessary to clear the Senate.
“As a mom and proud champion for the pro-life community, I have consistently voted to protect every human life, because every single person has something invaluable to offer the world,” McMorris Rodgers said in an emailed statement. “My commitment to life – both as a leader and a Member of Congress – is one I take seriously with every pro-life vote I take.”
McMorris Rodgers is chair of the House Republican Conference and its No. 4 elected leader. She opposes abortion in all instances, including cases of rape or incest, unless the woman’s life is in danger.
The offices of three other Washington Republicans — Reps. Dave Reichert of Auburn, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Camas and Dan Newhouse of Yakima — did not respond to questions about whether they’d vote to ban late-term abortions. Reichert and Herrera Beutler did so in 2013; Newhouse was elected in 2014.
Herrera Beutler was among a dozen congresswomen who gathered in the office of Majority Whip Steve Scalise Wednesday as he tried to quell concerns about reintroducing the late-term abortion bill. The objections appeared to involve more political timing than any reservations with the legislation, which would allow abortions after 20 weeks in cases of rape or incest only in cases that have been reported to authorities.
Ellmers, for instance, voted for the same provisions in 2013 and said Wednesday on Facebook she would do so again.
Herrera Beutler responded by email Friday to deny any suggestions that she tried to block the bill to ban late-term abortions:
“Earlier this week, I attended two meetings organized by GOP leadership that I believe all other Republican Congresswomen were invited to as well. While I did attend, I did not attempt to stop the House from voting on the bill. In fact, I supported the identical bill in the previous Congress and would have voted for it again this year.”