Church and ministry leaders join forces with conservative political groups the morning of the 42nd annual March for Life to publicly rebuke House Republicans for its last-minute decision to delay the vote on a bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks. Church leaders, unlike policy groups, are seemingly not appeased by GOP's decision to switch support to another pro-life bill that would ensure taxpayer dollars aren't going to abortion providers under health insurance plans offered on the federal exchange.
Texas Pastor Matt Chandler took to Twitter to express strong words of disappointment. The Village Church pastor tweeted "Saddened & disgusted by the pulling of the Pain Capable Abortion act (sic) by the GOP. Hoping it's not a sign of cowardice #Whenpoliticskills."
Focus on the Family President Jim Daly published a statement saying: "Those of us who support the protection of the unborn were heartened to hear of the upcoming vote in the House of Representatives that would have banned abortion after 20 weeks. But now we've learned the bill has been pulled by the GOP leadership over some of the legislation's language. Rather than have a public fight on the floor of the House, leadership has chosen to cancel the vote altogether. We're obviously disheartened and disappointed by this development."
Daly also charged the GOP to take action stating, "It is time for boldness. It is time for the House to figure this out and to pass this bill."
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President, Russell Moore, penned a letter to its Leadership Network stating "This decision is a severe breach of trust that we cannot let go unchallenged."
In a separate statement Moore also expressed, "I am disgusted by this act of moral cowardice. If the House Republicans cannot pass something as basic as restricting the abortion of five-month, pain-capable unborn children, what can they get done?"
Their voices were added to the collective disappointment from pro-life groups, such as the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, Susan B. Anthony List, and the March for Life Education and Defense Fund.
Republicans were scheduled to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act Thursday to coincide with the 42nd anniversary of Roe Vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion. The Pain-Capable bill would have established federal level protections for babies 20 weeks and older who are able to feel pain in the womb.
Conservatives had high hopes for the bill since Republicans gained the majority in the U.S. House and Senate during last year's midterm elections. However, the House Republican leadership put the bill on hold late Wednesday night after several Republican Congresswomen expressed concern about rape protections.
The Pain-Capable bill contains exceptions for reported cases of rape, incest and threats to the mother's life. A recent poll conducted on behalf of The Washington Post and ABC News showed that 60 percent of female respondents supported the 20-week bill with those protections.
However, some female Republican members of Congress took issue with the requirement to report rape in order to qualify for the bill's protections. GOP Congresswomen Renee Ellmers of North Carolina and Jackie Walorski of Indiana even went so far as to withdraw their support for the bill.
FRC President Tony Perkins expressed his disappointment with Ellmer's switch during the council's 2015 ProLifeCon. Both Ellmer and Walorski publically supported the bill on the House floor in 2013.
Perkins, however, also praised the GOP's last ditch effort to switch gears and coalesce support behind long-standing legislation to restrict federal dollars to abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.
Spokesman J.P. Duffy explained that while FRC continues to call for the Pain-Capable bill, it believes the prolife no taxpayer funded abortion bill is of "equal importance."
"We want both bills, we promote both, we support both bills," Duffy told The Christian Post.
SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Nancy and March for Life Education and Defense Fund President Jeanne Monahan expressed a similar sentiment in their joint statement.
"While we are disappointed that the House will not be voting on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act today, we are pleased that the House is moving forward to stop taxpayer funding of abortion," the women expressed in the statement.
Moore, however, is calling for House Republicans to explain their decision to delay the Pain-Capable bill to "the hundreds of thousands of people gathering here in the nation's capital to march for life."
There is no word on what he thinks about the GOP support switch to the no taxpayer funded abortion bill.