Judiciary Subcommittee Holds Hearing on DC Abortion Restrictions

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution is holding a hearing today on a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks in Washington, DC. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Trent Franks (AZ-2), chairs the subcommittee. His home state, Arizona, enacted new abortion restrictions in April that prohibit abortion after 20 weeks, though the law essentially bans abortions after 18 weeks because gestational age of the fetus will be calculated based on the last menstrual period of the woman.

Outrageously, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton’s (D-DC) request to testify at the hearing was denied. 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. She told the Huffington Post yesterday that “Certainly, if the bill covers one district, you would expect the representative who can express the views of the constituents in that district would be heard.”

The Congresswoman will speak at a press conference prior to the Congressional hearing with DC Mayor Vincent Grey and George Washington University Professor Christy Zink, who had an abortion after 20 weeks due to malformation of the fetus and will testify at the hearing.

In a statement released after her request to testify was formally denied, Congresswoman Norton said, “We will vigorously fight the bullying tactics of the Republican majority against the District’s women, and in standing up for ourselves, we recognize that we are also in the larger fight to protect the reproductive rights of women everywhere.” She also described the District of Columbia as an easy target for anti-abortion bills in Congress. “Why wouldn’t they put this bill in for the entire country if they feel so deeply about it? The reason is that they’re bullies, so they know that you pick on the district whose member cannot vote on the House floor, you pick on the member who does not have any Senators to protect her, and maybe you can get somewhere,” she said.

Media Resources: Eleanor Holmes Norton Statement 3/15/2012; Huffington Post 5/16/2012; Feminist Daily Newswire 4/13/2012

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