By Michele Hendrickson, Capital Area Regional Coordinator, Students for Life of America
After her disappointing withdrawal of support of the Pain Capable bill, which would have banned abortion after 20 weeks, Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC) has been visited twice now by pro-life students in the last month. Bold high school and college shared their pro-life beliefs and confronted Rep. Ellmers, reminding her that millennials do care about social issues, especially concerning abortion.
After about a dozen or so students met with Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) yesterday to discuss abortion, they headed down the hall to Rep. Ellmers’ office to see if she was around. After all, they were on Capitol Hill today to talk about millennials and abortion and Rep. Ellmers is no stranger to those topics.
At her door, we were eventually greeted by a representative who directed us to a Legislative Assistant, Kristi Thompson. She instructed us out into the hallway probably because our students would have crowded the office. Our students patiently took turns sharing their concerns about the Pain Capable bill being delayed in January. It was supposed to be up for a vote on Jan 22, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the day of the March for Life but Rep. Ellmers paved the way for the bill to be pulled because of her, and others’, vocal displeasure. She specifically mentioned millennials that would be turned off from the GOP if the bill was brought up for a vote. In reality, millennials support banning abortions after 20 weeks by 52%.
Kristi listened intently, thanking us for our comments. After about 10 minutes of discussion we began to wrap things up when the Congresswoman herself approached her office. It seemed she had just come in from outside since she was wearing her coat and carrying a coffee cup. Congresswoman Ellmers appeared happy to see us and invited us to share our concerns again with her personally. However, when we tried to videotape our conversation, Kristi insisted we not use video, only photos.
Throughout our conversation she acknowledged our concerns with agreeable head nods. She assured the students that she was “pro-life just like us” and that if the Pain Capable bill came up to a vote with language like last year’s bill, she would vote yes. [She actually did vote yes on an identical bill in 2013]
Lori Kostka, a student at George Mason University, questioned Rep. Ellmers on her open letter published last Friday – she called pro-life groups “childish and abhorrent” – asking why she did not mention the overwhelming number of millennials who not only marched for life two weeks ago or the 60+ young people who visited her office the same day (she wasn’t there but the group met with her staff).
Rep. Ellmers seemed troubled by our mention of her previous millennials comment by letting out an audible sigh and claiming that her comments about millennials not caring about social issues in the past had been “taken out of context” and that she does realize that young people care about issues like abortion. She added that she had meant she hadn’t seen millennials be “active” in their views on social issues before and that young people usually do not often share their views with others. We assured her that students are, in fact, active on their campuses regularly and they receive support from their peers on this issue.
I spoke up for the group explaining that we, as millennials, would appreciate her having our back as she votes and speaks up in Congress when it comes to the Pain Capable bill. Lori Kostka also chimed in that she understood how complicated the process must be, but encouraged the Congresswoman to take a stand for life because for every day we don’t pass this bill, viable babies are killed feeling every ounce of pain an abortion procedure inflicts.