(CNSNews.com) -- U.S. Capitol police on Wednesday arrested seven pro-life protestors while they were praying outside the office of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Those arrested, who included prominent pro-life activist and nurse Jill Stanek, were protesting the House Republican leaderships' failure to call a vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prohibit aborting an unborn child in or after the 20th week of gestation.
The House Republican leadership shelved the bill less than 24 hours before it was set to come up for a vote on Jan. 22 after some Republican congresswomen, led by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) and Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), objected to the rape and incest exceptions in the bill, which they deemed too onerous. The exceptions said a baby 20 weeks old or older could only be terminated if the the baby had been conceived by an act of rape or incest that had been reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
In 2012, Ellmers had co-sponsored the District of Columbia Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which banned abortions in the 20th week or later in Washington, D.C., and had no rape or incest exceptions whatever. On July 31 of that year, the bill was brought up on the House floor under a suspension of the rules, which required a two-thirds vote instead of a majority. The bill failed to get two-thirds but did get a majority, with 220 voting yes, 154 voting no, 55 not voting and 2 voting present. Six Democrats voted for that bill with no rape and incest exceptions.
Ellmers also voted in 2013 for a national version of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. That bill included the same type of rape and incest exception that was in the bill the House leadership pulled from a vote in January.
Stanek, a nurse who formerly worked at Christ Hospital in Chicago, became involved in the pro-life movement 16 years ago after she held a live baby who had survived an abortion and was left to die afterwards.
“I’ve been in this movement for 16 years, from the moment I held this little aborted baby, and I’ve never felt convicted to be arrested,” Stanek explained during the protest on Wednesday.
“I’ve always felt my voice was well-heard, speaking and writing," she said. "But when this bill failed to be brought forward on Jan. 22, I was just so frustrated and disgusted with our Republican House leadership, that they would abandon these babies over political maneuvering.”
“I decided right then and there that I was willing to be arrested on behalf of this little baby that I held, and others like him,” she said.
Stanek was joined Wednesday outside Boehner's office in the Longworth building by several other pro-life leaders, who said they knew they might be arrested for praying but were willing to take that risk to “be a voice for the voiceless.”
“We were told yesterday by Speaker Boehner’s office that this is the most pro-life Congress that has ever been installed,” challenged Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, a Christian pro-life organization.
“And yet a ban on late-term abortions, which the vast majority of Americans believe should be passed immediately, this bill has languished in the House, in the so-called most pro-life House in the last 70 years, it has languished for three months,” he said.
“We’re here to sacrifice just a little bit of freedom to stand in solidarity with these children, and to help Speaker Boehner grow a spine,” Newman said.
After a brief introduction, protestors knelt in the hallway in front of Boehner’s office and began praying the Lord’s Prayer, followed by individual pleas to God to end abortion.
Within minutes, more than a dozen Capitol Hill police arrived and told protestors that they were “engaging in unlawful activity” and would be arrested if they failed to stop praying and move. After refusing, the protestors were handcuffed and forcibly removed from the area.
In addition to Stanek, police also arrested Newman, Rev. Pat Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, and four other women.