The Susan B. Anthony List, which serves as the electoral arm of the anti-abortion movement and is particularly focused on electing anti-choice women, is for the first time endorsing a male candidate over an anti-choice woman in a Republican primary, backing Rep. George Holding against Rep. Renee Ellmers in a recently redrawn congressional district in North Carolina.
The anti-choice movement turned on Ellmers back in January 2015 when she led a group of anti-abortion Republicans who objected at the last minute to a provision in a 20-week abortion ban that would have exempted rape survivors from the ban only if they first reported their rape to law enforcement.
Ellmers said at the time that the reporting requirement was “completely unrealistic” and “further victimized the victims of rape,” also suggesting that including it could feed into pro-choice criticisms of Republicans.
The objections of Ellmers and her allies caused the bill to be pulled from consideration right before a vote that was scheduled to coincide with the March for Life and the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, frustrating and embarrassing anti-choice leaders who consider the legislation to be their top priority on Capitol Hill.
Anti-choice groups immediatelyvowed to exact revenge. Although the movement was slow to jump into the primary race, anti-choice activists successfully lobbied to keep Ellmers off a select committee investigating Planned Parenthood and in March National Right to Life Committee endorsed her opponent, Holding.
Now, Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjorie Dannenfelser tells Roll Call, her group will work to defeat Ellmers because “You’re not really an effective political organization if you can’t respond to the derailment of your number one priority.”
Yes, the anti-choice movement was angry about the optics of Ellmers’ move to derail the 20-week ban. And they can’t be thrilled that she was an early endorser of Donald Trump back when Dannenfelser and others were urging the GOP to pick literally anyone else . But the issue it comes down to is a rape exception. The Susan B. Anthony List and its allies are now punishing a congresswoman who agrees with their policy priorities simply because she publicly mentioned the impact that one of their bills might have on rape survivors.