DC Abortion Restriction Hearing Held

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing yesterday on a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks in Washington, DC. Outrageously, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton’s (D-DC) request to testify at the hearing was denied by the bill’s sponsor, Republican Trent Franks (AZ-2), who chairs the subcommittee.

The Republicans called three physicians who are against late abortion as witnesses at the hearing, according to NBC. George Washington University Professor Christy Zink, who had an abortion at 21 weeks because the fetus was missing half of its brain, testified as the sole witness for the Democrats. In her testimony, she stated, “The decision I made to have an abortion at almost 22 weeks was made out of love and to spare my son’s pain and suffering…I am horrified to think that the doctors who compassionately but objectively explained to us the prognosis and our options for medical treatment, and the doctor who helped us terminate the pregnancy, would be prosecuted as criminals under this law for providing basic medical care and expertise,” reported the Huffington Post.

Congresswoman Norton is the District of Columbia’s only elected representative and is not allowed to vote on the House floor because Washington, DC, is not a state. Denial of her testimony breaks Congressional tradition that allows members of Congress to testify on bills that affect their constituents. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-8) said in a media conference Thursday morning, “We have a member of Congress who wants to come in to talk about her district. I can’t even imagine a situation where someone else would be denied that opportunity and I think it’s wrong.” When asked about the situation, House Speaker John Boehner (OH-8) said, “I’m not familiar with the testimony or the hearing, so it’d be hard for me to comment,” according to the Washington Post

At a press conference prior to the hearing, Congresswoman Norton said, “It is difficult to approach today’s hearing with anything short of disgust and anger, because this is the second time in the 112th Congress that this very same subcommittee has targeted our city, its women and its health care providers…There’s been a debate as to whether Republicans are waging a war on women. Well, I can tell you this: It feels like a war on women in the District of Columbia. We will never accept second-class treatment of our city.”

Media Resources: Feminist Daily Newswire 5/17/2012; Huffington Post 5/17/2012; Washington Post 5/17/2012; NBC Washington 5/18/2012

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