A funny thing happened in Congress last week on their way to banning abortions after 20 weeks: it didn’t happen.

As you know, the Republican party now runs the entire show in the House of Representatives and the Senate. So, they are anxious to show the nation how they can function in a governing role. On January 22, the pro-life organizations held their annual “March for Life” and, with the thought of throwing their friends a bone on their big day, a vote was scheduled in the House of Representatives on the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” (otherwise known as PCUCPA). The bill, which passed the House a few years ago, would ban abortions at 20 weeks because that’s when the fetuses supposedly feel pain.

Everyone figured a bill like that would fly through the House without any problems but then the proverbial crap hit the fan from two unexpected sources. It seems that two Republican members of Congress, Renee Ellmers (NC) and Jackie Walorski (IN), actually spoke up at a private meeting with the leadership and expressed their concerns about this bill. The two members made it clear that they are “pro-life” but they had the guts to stand up to the good ole boys who still run the show and tell them that they had serious problems with the bill.

After a few other members chimed in, the leadership got very nervous and decided to not bring the bill up for a vote on January 22nd. Instead, they passed a lame measure declaring that no federal dollars could be used to pay for abortions, something that’s been done for many, many years. Yawn.

It’s not entirely clear what objections were specifically raised about the bill, but there is conjecture that these two women who represent districts that are becoming more moderate were concerned about looking too extreme. That’s interesting, however, because my political sense tells me that voting to ban abortions after 20 weeks is not “extreme” as most polls show that most Americans would support such a measure. Most people are okay with abortions in the first trimester but as the fetus starts to look more baby-like, they understandably start to get more uncomfortable.

Of course, even if the House of Representatives passed the bill and the Senate followed suit, President Obama still would have vetoed it. So, the question for the GOP leadership was do we force our members to vote on this bill at all? On the one hand, they have pressure from the pro-life groups to do something dramatic but on the other hand, there are many members of Congress who would just rather not vote on any abortion bills at all. I mean, even if you are a right winger, why vote on a bill that will not become law and risk pissing off some of the moderates in your district? Why give my opponents the opportunity to say that the GOP is once again waging a war on women?

I guess this was the message these two women sent to the boys. And the pendulum keeps swinging back and forth.