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)

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. Continue Reading

Did Renee Ellmers Betray the Pro-Life Movement? (VIDEO)

Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, recently sat down with The Pulse 2016 to talk pro-life politics, and particularly the controversy that convinced her to work to defeat Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) in next week’s state congressional primary:

THE PULSE 2016: So, who’s making you mad this week?

MARJORIE DANNENFELSER: Well, Renee Ellmers is at the top of the list. Honestly, she was the first person from North Carolina that I feel like we really could believe in. In a lot of ways, we were also the first PAC in when she decided to run she was a nurse, she totally understood the pro-life issue, and —

THE PULSE 2016: And what has she done to make you mad?


DANNENFELSER: To make me mad in particular, most recently, on the verge of the pro-life march a couple of years ago, when we had just set up everything to have the most beautiful vote on the Pain-Capable bill, the late term 5-month bill —

THE PULSE 2016: That was, like, January of last year…?

DANNENFELSER: That’s right. We had started to organize the entire march to surround the Capitol of the United States to pray while they were voting, and what happened in the middle of this? She really led the revolt to derail that bill.  There were others that had some issues. They wanted to change some language, but she went to the media. She started talking about how millennials really are not into this issue.

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The Problem with the Social Conservative Movement

Roll Call published a story this morning diagnosing one of the key problems with the pro-life, social conservative movement: our bark is worse than our bite.

No House Republican did more to anger anti-abortion groups last year than Rep. Renee Ellmers, the North Carolina lawmaker who last January scuttled legislation to ban abortions after 20 weeks. At the time, anti-abortion leaders vowed that they and their members would remember Ellmers’ betrayal during her next primary.

Apparently, they forgot.

Nearly every one of the country’s most prominent anti-abortion groups have stayed out of Ellmers’ primary, not even offering so much as an endorsement to her opponents – much less the financial and grassroots support vital to defeating an incumbent member of Congress.

Frank Cannon, a contributor to The Pulse 2016, said the lack of groups spending in opposition to Ellmers is a symptom of a larger problem:

“Social-issue groups across the board need to recognize that if there are no consequences to people disagreeing with you, you’re not going to get taken seriously,” said Frank Cannon, a leader within the anti-abortion movement and president of the American Principles Project, a social conservative group. “We spend virtually nothing in directly engaging in elections. And the absence on that is one of the big dramatic flaws … for the social conservative movement.”

Cannon explained why this is taking place:

Money is the biggest obstacle facing social conservative groups, Cannon says. They don’t have much to begin with, he explains, because rich donors are more interested in fiscal issues.

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Renee Elmers’ Two Percent Solution

Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC)

Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) became the face of Republican timidity when she publicly justified torpedoing a quick vote in January on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, also known as the 20-week bill. She will reap the whirlwind, but it is the House Republican leadership which deserves the blame for this betrayal.

Why are GOP elites so squeamish about voting against late-term abortion?   It is telling that Rep. Ellmers’ and others’ decision to torpedo a late-term abortion ban came just after a retreat the leadership organized for GOP House members featuring demographer Neil Howe (who coined the term “millennials”) and focused on how the GOP can attract younger voters. “The first vote we take, or the second vote, or the fifth vote, shouldn’t be on an issue where we know that millennials—social issues just aren’t as important [to them],” Ellmers told the National Journal.

Let’s pause for a moment and consider how much sense it makes to torpedo a late-term abortion plan in order to attract younger voters. According to Gallup (May 2014), overall millennials split 50% pro-choice and 40% pro-life.  So in the very best case, we boost by 10% our standing among a cohort which represented 22% of the turnout in 2012 and 19% in 2014 – a net gain of 2% in the total vote. How many voters would we lose in the process of attempting to gain that 2 percent?

For every millennial who votes Republican because of our doing nothing on a social issue, one or more pro-life activists who went door-to-door last year on behalf of Republican candidates will stay home.   Continue Reading

Carly Fiorina versus Renee Ellmers?

Carly Fiorina (photo via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 3.0 BR)

Last week in the Daily Caller, I reported on two profiles of courage – or rather one courageous woman and one. . . not so much. Here was my main point:

It isn’t often that The Washington Post describes a defender of abortion as having the “worst week in Washington.” But that is what Post columnist Chris Cillizza did in picking Rep. Renee Ellmers for the honor, thanks to her strange timing in opposing a popular late-term abortion limit while hundreds of thousands of pro-life marchers were in town last week. By contrast, a different female leader had the best week in politics: Carly Fiorina. . .

On the eve of this vote [for the 20 weeks abortion ban], Ellmers let it be known that a reporting provision in the bill had spurred her withdrawal of sponsorship of the bill. But she went much further in one media interview, saying, “The first vote we take, or the second vote, or the fifth vote, shouldn’t be on an issue where we know that Millennials — social issues just aren’t as important [to them].” This is arrant nonsense. The polls show strong majorities of Americans, Millennials included, and up to 70 percent of women support a 20-week limit on this brutal procedure.

Into this maelstrom stepped Carly Fiorina. Her response was both personal and persuasive. In remarks over the weekend to the Iowa Freedom Summit, she criticized the House leadership for their failure to stand by their commitment to vote on the Pain Capable measure.

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