April 1, 2014 — A dispute over exceptions to abortion bans in cases of rape and incest has led the National Right to Life Committee to cut ties with state-based affiliate Georgia Right to Life and instead partner with the Georgia Life Alliance, the AP/WRCBTV reports (AP/WRCBTV, 3/30).
According to an NRLC statement, its board of directors voted to oust GRTL on Saturday. NRLC President Carol Tobias said in the statement that GRTL in the last year had "demanded that members of the U.S. House of Representatives vote against National Right to Life's top-priority federal legislation, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act [HR 1797], and subsequently praised some House members who did in fact join with pro-abortion congressmen to vote against that landmark bill" (Malloy, "Political Insider," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/29).
The bill, which passed the House last year, would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the disputed theory that fetuses can experience pain at that point.
The bill originally only would have allowed an exception to save a woman's life in certain instances, but it was revised in committee after bill sponsor Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) made controversial remarks about the incidence of pregnancies resulting from rape. The changes would allow exceptions in instances of incest of a minor or rape if either type of incident was reported "at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency" (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/19/13).
In addition, Tobias noted that GRTL "praised a U.S. House member for not voting in favor of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act [HR 7]," which would have "strengthen[ed] and expand[ed] prohibitions on federal funding of abortion -- another ... top legislative priority for [NRLC]" ("Political Insider," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/29).
The House approved HR 7 in January (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/29).
In response, GRTL President Dan Becker said in a statement, "It's a tragedy that a pioneering, highly successful pro-life organization is considered unworthy to remain affiliated" with NRLC, "especially ... since GRTL has accomplished so much." He added that the two groups "[f]rom a policy standpoint" are "on the same page."
However, the statement noted that the group in 2000 "changed its candidate endorsement criteria and legislation policy to ensure that all pre-born children are protected, except in cases where the life of the mother is threatened" ("Political Insider," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/29).