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Indiana Congresswomen Help Block GOP Anti-Abortion Bill

U.S. Capitol

Two Republican congresswomen from Indiana worked to block progress on an anti-abortion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday.

A vote on H.R.36, which would have banned most abortions after 20 weeks, was scheduled for Thursday, but the Washington Post reports Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Jimtown, and Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Carmel, were among those who kept that from happening.

With word of the opposition spreading, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) conferred nervously off the House floor after a midday vote. From there, Scalise headed to a meeting in his office suite with Ellmers, Walorski, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) -- a lead co-sponsor of the bill -- and several other women.

In a caucus dominated by men, a meeting with top leaders requested and attended almost exclusively by women is a rare sight.

One-by-one they exited the meeting and remained tight-lipped.

Walorski said the dispute "is no different" than conversations that occur before votes on other legislation. When pressed to explain her specific concerns, she rushed off: "I can't. I can't."

Others seen exiting included Reps. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) and Ann Wagner (R-Mo.). Hartzler had already signaled her support for the bill to reporters. The other women declined to comment.



The IndyStar reports that Brooks took issue with a provision in the bill only allowing exceptions for rape and incest only if women reported the incidents to the police.

Brooks said in her statement that she still supports the bill, but "we must be mindful that a majority of the victims of these horrendous crimes do not come forward to law enforcement."

"I am hopeful these concerns can be addressed," she said. "I believe this is about using our legislative process to ultimately produce the right piece of legislation."

Walorski, along with North Carolina GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers, removed herself as a co-sponsor of the bill Tuesday.



The House did pass an alternative bill yesterday, H.R.7, that would prohibit taxpayer funding of elective abortions. Walorski and Brooks both voted in favor of that measure.

"We have a responsibility, as the elected body representing our constituents, to protect the most vulnerable among us and ensure that women facing unwanted pregnancies do not face judgment or condemnation, but have positive support structures and access to health care to help them through their pregnancies," Walorski said in a statement.

All of Indiana's Republican U.S. Representatives voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Andre Carson, D-Indianapolis, and Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, voted against it.

The votes came on the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

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