Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) wants to restrict abortions in the District of Columbia, but he refuses to allow D.C.’s delegate from testifying on behalf of the city’s residents during a hearing about his proposal. Franks’ “fetal pain” bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in D.C. even though there is no scientific proof that a fetus can feel pain at that point and a fetus is not viable.
Del. Eleanor Norton (D), D.C.’s only elected represetative, asked Franks last week if she could testify about the bill at an upcoming Thursday hearing. Franks denied her request, which Norton said breaks tradition of allowing members of Congress to testify about a bill that affects their constituents. Similarly, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) prevented women from testifying on a panel about contraception back in February.
Norton told the Huffington Post that her constituents are “up in arms” about the proposed abortion ban:
“This is the first bill in history that attempts to take the residents of the District of Columbia outside of the protection of the Constitution,” she continued. “The right to have an abortion until viability is a mandated right under Roe v. Wade. I think it takes a lot of nerve to single out the constituents of another member’s district for discriminatory treatment, and we deeply resent it.” [...]
D.C. is an easy target for anti-abortion bills, Norton said, because it doesn’t have any elected officials who can vote in Congress.
“Why wouldn’t they put this bill in for the entire country if they feel so deeply about it?”
In December, House Republicans forced a ban on funding for abortion services in D.C. to avoid a government shutdown and even prevented the city from using local taxes to pay for abortion care, reinstating a 13-year ban on abortion funding in D.C. that President Obama overturned in 2009.
Lawmakers in six conservative states have banned abortion after 20 weeks, including Georgia and Arizona which approved the bans this year.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton tweets:
Chairman Franks invited me to sit on dais with other members but to say nothing at today’s hearing. I declined.
— Eleanor H. Norton (@EleanorNorton) May 17, 2012