The House subcommittee on the Constitution is holding a hearing today without the presence of the city’s elected Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, on a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy in the District of Columbia. Oh, you know, just another day on Capitol Hill!
Based on similar bills modeled and promoted by the National Right to Life Committee, the bill introduced earlier this year by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) is a standalone bill in legislative talks that would grant D.C. autonomy over its budget. The bill – “District of Columbia Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” – is based upon the disputed claim that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks gestation or older. Although the AP reports the bill has no chance becoming law this year, six states have passed similar legislation.
In case you’re confused about what this debate is really about – fetal pain? D.C. budget autonomy? abortion? – let me save you the mental frustration. Republicans are trading D.C. women’s autonomy over their bodies and healthcare decisions for the city’s budget autonomy. Their asking price is a restriction on D.C. women’s healthcare and constitutional right to abortion. I’m sick and tired of the continual attacks on our healthcare and reproductive rights. And I’m sick of the undemocratic, oppressive tactic of baiting one group of Americans’ rights against another. Enough! On the Rachel Maddow Show last night, Holmes Norton forcefully called the bill out as a bullying tactic. Well done, Rep. Holmes Norton.