I was leaving the One Voice worship service at the Renaissance Hotel in D.C. Wednesday night, on my way to meet fellow pro-lifers at the Dubliner Pub (dichotomous activities, I know, at least for a Protestant :), when Casey Mattox of Alliance Defending Freedom stopped me in the hall.
“They’re pulling the 20-week ban,” said Casey, “and substituting ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion‘.”
Casey started walking again, on a mission to tell others, but I remained frozen, with my mouth hanging open, watching Casey until he disappeared around a corner. (Correction: Casey has told me he was actually on a mission to pray.)
I knew Rep. Renee Ellmers had tried to slow progress of the Pain Capable Child Protection Act.
But it was beyond the scope of my imagination to think GOP House leadership could be so traitorous, weak, and stupid as to pull a publicly supported landmark pro-life bill they’d publicly promised to sign the following day – during the largest annual pro-life gathering in the world, and literally in their own backyard.
My shock turned to anger, and at all involved – Ellmers for fomenting a pro-abortion talking point the other side had never even thought of, and House leadership for their “deflated balls,” as Sarah Palin aptly put it, when it came to the pro-abortion cabal, but balls of steel when it came to such a brazen and senseless betrayal of their base.
I learned House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (pictured right) had broken the news to bill co-sponsor Trent Franks earlier in the evening at an inopportunely timed pro-life reception at which McCarthy was scheduled to speak.
Leaving Franks and pro-life leaders in tears, McCarthy departed without giving that speech. What could he say?
This led to a tweet that was a bit out of character for me (two Guinnesses helped, I’m sure) but conveyed the emotion I felt at the moment, which frankly hasn’t dissipated…
.@GOPLeader was supposed to speak at #prolife event tonite and bailed. #fu
— Jill Stanek (@JillStanek) January 22, 2015
Yesterday morning I woke up crying, and I pretty much haven’t stopped. The emotion of holding the 21-week-old abortion survivor at Christ Hospital has returned. Maybe I’m experiencing PTSD, dunno. I haven’t been this upset about it in years.
The 20-week ban was so close. It needed to get to Barack Obama’s desk. If he blocked it, well, been there, done that with the Born Alive Infants Protection Act.
But for our own side to abandon these babies, especially when they had the power not to, well, it makes me want to punch somebody.
Well, not really. I had the chance to do that yesterday and passed on it.
As I said, I woke up crying. And an idea I had broached with friends at the Dubliner the night before (us brainstorming, right) to protest Ellmers’ office took hold.
More than that, for the first time since I joined the pro-life movement 15 years ago, I felt I was in the midst of an unjust moment in time for which I was willing to commit civil disobedience during the protest – in honor of that baby.
So Reverend Pat Mahoney and I started organizing our protest. And when a reporter oddly but coincidentally asked if I was prepared to be arrested, I said yes.
This piqued the media’s interest. Calls started coming in. “You’re willing to be arrested?” I was asked by MSNBC, CBS, etc.
The prospect also terrified Ellmers’ staffers, I’m told. (By the time of our protest Ellmers had gutlessly left town.)
So when we, together with a group from Students for Life of America, showed up at Ellmers’ office at the appointed time of 3 p.m., news cameras were waiting, and three of Ellmers’ staff stood outside her locked door – to preclude a sit-in – with a bucket of iced refreshments.
So after pro-life spokespersons, including me, made their statements, and Ellmers’ people responded with, “We’re here to listen, we want to hear you,” blah blah blah…
… I was ready for my sit-in but had nowhere to sit but in what was fast becoming an empty hall, which seemed pretty lame.
There were seven capitol policemen ready to arrest me, but their boss told me that would only happen if I broke a window or punched somebody. Otherwise, no.
So unable to civilly but disobediently take a stand for the little 21-weeker who was being cast aside by Republicans, along with thousands of his friends in the name of political cowardice, I left to crash at my daughter’s house, drained from the emotional roller coaster of the past 24 hours, which had started on such a high note and ended with PTSD.
Today I woke up crying again.
This all reminds me of the time the Born Alive Infants Protection Act failed in Illinois for the first time. I was naive and so taken by surprise I began sobbing uncontrollably and had to be led to a bathroom by my friend Fran Eaton to compose myself.
But the first, second, third, and fourth fails of BAIPA were for a reason. Had BAIPA passed without a hitch, the pro-infanticide proclivity of then no-name state Sen. Barack Obama would never have been known. This has served more than one good purpose, I think, if nothing more than to further educate the American public on the barbarism of abortion.
Is it a coincidence, for instance, that it was only in 2009 that more Americans first told Gallup they were pro-life than pro-choice? And have polled our way six of nine times since?
So I’ll return to the battle in faith that this setback, too, will somehow work for good.
[Photo of Dubliner via Brandi Swindell; photo of reporters via Andy Moore; photo of crowd via Kristina Hernandez of Students for Life of America; credit for “GOP’s Abortion Barbie”: Erick Erickson]
Some good commentaries to read on this catastrophe:
“Why everyone should be terrified of the GOP’s abortion bill debacle”
“Renee Ellmers says she won’t flip-flop on bill protecting viable infants from late-term abortion”
Planned Parenthood VP’s tweet supporting Republicans’ cave
“Why does @RepReneeEllmers want to protect rapists and abortionists?”
“The pro-life movement must stop being whores of the Republican Party”
Reprinted with permission from JillStanek.com.