Betrayal of Pro-Lifers Dooms Renee Ellmers

Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) (photo credit: House Committee on Foreign Affairs via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)
Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) (photo credit: House Committee on Foreign Affairs via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Last night we flexed the political muscle of the pro-life movement when we defeated Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.).

For those who don’t remember what happened: In January of last year, Congresswoman Ellmers — a former ally of Susan B. Anthony List and the pro-life movement — led the charge to stop the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, our top legislative priority.

Congresswoman Ellmers — who had previously supported this compassionate, common sense legislation to protect babies after five months — changed course. Ellmers claimed that young people don’t care about abortion and that Republicans should not make the pro-life bill a priority.

Ellmers publicly removed her name as a co-sponsor from the bill and launched a media firestorm which derailed the legislation and prevented the scheduled vote. She drew attention away from the horrific reality that the U.S. is only one of seven nations on the planet to allow abortion on demand after five months.

Her betrayal could not have been more profound, especially for an organization like ours which places a special emphasis on women’s leadership. When she betrayed us, we sought to replace her with a trusted pro-life ally. That’s why we endorsed Congressman George Holding.

For weeks, the Susan B. Anthony List North Carolina canvassing team has gone door to door across the district, talking to primary voters about Rep. Ellmers betrayal. We knocked on 12,571 doors in the weeks leading up to the primary last night.

Of the voters we had face-to-face conversations with:

  • 37% of Rep. Ellmers’s own supporters said they were less likely to vote for her knowing her betrayal.
  • 69% of undecided voters were less likely to vote for Rep. Ellmers knowing her betrayal.

This is a big victory for the pro-life movement, and a powerful statement to lawmakers that there are political consequences for those who turn their back on the protection of the unborn. Rep. Ellmers has her own failed leadership to blame for this loss.

Marjorie Dannenfelser is the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a national pro-life organization dedicated to electing leaders and advancing legislation to reduce and ultimately end abortion.