Anti-abortion activists gathered in the nation’s capital to mark the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision. It wasn’t a great time for Rep. Ellmers (R) to take a stand against banning abortion at 20 weeks. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rep. Renee Ellmers sure picked a strange time to stand up to the social conservatives in her party.

On the eve of the annual March for Life in Washington, Ellmers, a relatively unknown third-term Republican from North Carolina, led an effort to torpedo a House vote on a bill to ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy.

Her concern, which was shared by other Republican women in the House, was centered on a provision in the legislation that would have excluded rape from the ban, but only if a woman reported the rape to law enforcement. Ellmers and others also wondered whether voting on a bill trumpeted by social conservatives was the best message to send to female and young voters so soon after Republicans took full control of Congress.

“The first vote we take, or the second vote, or the fifth vote, shouldn’t be on an issue where we know that millennials — social issues just aren’t as important [to them],” Ellmers told National Journal magazine.

While dumping the bill might have been the right thing for Republicans heading into the 2016 election I argued that point hereit’s going to make Ellmers’s life a lot more complicated between now and then.

Hours after the bill failed, conservatives were calling Ellmers all sorts of names and promised to challenge her in next year’s primary. Erick Erickson, founder of, branded her “the GOP’s Abortion Barbie.” Conservatives also noted that Ellmers voted for a bill in the summer of 2013 that had similar language on rape.

Timing is everything in politics. And being the public face of an effort to sack pro-life legislation as half a million pro-life activists descend on Washington is the epitome of bad timing.

Renee Ellmers, for standing up only to be asked to sit back down, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Each week, Chris Cillizza awards the worst week in Washington to an inhabitant of Planet Beltway who stands out for all the wrong reasons. You can check out previous winners or e-mail Cillizza with candidates. You can also read more from Outlook and follow our updates on Facebook and Twitter.