Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) held a hearing on congressional Republicans’ most recent attempt to limit access to abortion services in the District of Columbia. The bill would prevent doctors from performing abortions after 20 weeks in D.C., based on the contested idea that a fetus can feel pain at that point. Franks, whose district is about 2,300 miles away from D.C., prevented Del. Eleanor Norton (D), D.C.’s only congressional representative, from testifying about the bill that would impact her constituents.
During the subcommittee hearing, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) criticized his GOP colleagues for blocking Norton from testifying alongside the Democrats’ witness, Christy Zink, a D.C. resident who “told of having an abortion at 21 weeks after tests showed the fetus had life-threatening brain anomalies.”
But Franks said late-term abortions were “the greatest human rights atrocity in the United States today,” calling the practice “inhumane.” And when he questioned a doctor who described an abortion procedure after 20 weeks, Franks compared the 20-week ban to animal cruelty statutes:
FRANKS: I find it tremendous — I don’t even want to use the word irony, just a break from human compassion that while we would do the right thing and prevent those things from happening…to animals, but not to human babies.
Women’s access to abortion care in D.C. has been under fire. 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.
But by using a medical procedure as a political football, Franks is necessary health care for women like Zink who want to decide with their doctors what is best for them — without input from Republican politicians.
Last February, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) came under intense criticism when he would not allow Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke to testify in support of an Obama administration rule requiring employers to provide birth control without additional cost sharing.