Objections by Women Open Rift in G.O.P.

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from The New York Times,

House Republicans struggled on Thursday to mend another unwelcome rift that threatens to tarnish their party’s image with women and younger voters, shelving a contentious bill to outlaw most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Party leaders, facing a revolt from Republican congresswomen who objected that the legislation did not do enough to accommodate victims of rape, instead called a vote on a more limited measure to forbid the use of taxpayer money for abortions. It passed 239 to 179, with only one Republican voting no. But the tally masked a divide so deep that some conservatives left the Capitol saying they did not know when Congress could take up the issue again, despite pledges from leaders in both chambers to do so now that Republicans controlled the House and the Senate.

The rebellion created an awkward tension between Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill and the thousands of abortion opponents who gathered just steps away on the National Mall to mark the 42nd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

One of the most striking aspects of the split was that some of the Republican women leading it were members of the party’s leadership team, including young, emerging faces that the House speaker, John A. Boehner, and his deputies have been trying to give a higher profile.

“We have a responsibility,” said Representative Jackie Walorski, an Indiana Republican who wanted the legislation rewritten, “to protect the most vulnerable among us and ensure that women facing unwanted pregnancies do not face judgment or condemnation.” She has a 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee.

Representative Kristi Noem, Republican of South Dakota and a deputy whip, said that members were working on a way to revive the 20-week measure to address the concerns of those who were uneasy with it. “One of the things that people forget,” she said, “is the legislative process is messy. And it should be O.K., it should be acceptable to have this kind of debate.”

Abortion opponents who balked at any changes insisted that they would keep the pressure on lawmakers to oppose anything they feared could weaken the legislation. But to get through the Senate, a 20-week ban would almost certainly have to contain a broad rape exemption. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who is one of the Senate’s most vocal proponents of a 20-week ban, called the House bill “unacceptable.”

Instead of celebrating what many conservatives had hoped would be a moment to put Democrats on the defensive over the difficult question of terminating late-term pregnancies, Republicans again found themselves drawn into a debate about whether their party was being unsympathetic to women who have been raped.

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