The Issa Hearing Redux: Arizona Rep. Franks Seeks to Control D.C.’s Abortion Policy But Won’t Let D.C. Rep. Norton Speak

Arizona Congressman Trent Franks’ attempt to push a 20-week “fetal pain” abortion ban in Washington, D.C. (despite the fact that there is no science showing a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks) is at best just another chance for the Republican to show off his anti-choice credentials and allow anti-choice House members to woo their supporters with their love of restrictions on women’s reproductive health. At worst, it’s an attempt to create a piece of legislation which, if it does become law, would provide a direct track to the Supreme Court to challenge Roe V. Wade. There is no evidence for fetal pain in the second trimester of pregnancy, and fetuses are not viable at 20 weeks.

Either way, he’s not intending to let his moment of glory be overshadowed, even if that means refusing to let D.C.’s actual Congressional representative speak on the bill.

On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee will be reviewing a ban on any abortion after 20 weeks, but Democratic Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District, will not be allowed to testify, despite the fact that she would be the one who represents the women who would be affected by the bill if it passes.

“The post-20-week D.C. abortion ban bill targets an entire group of individuals, women who live in the District of Columbia, and their constitutional rights. Using the women of one congressional district to reach for extreme encroachments on women’s reproductive rights has become a pattern of the House Republican majority, but also reflected nationwide. 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.”

According to National Right To Life, however, Congress needs make rules for D.C. if it isn’t willing to make them themselves, because the “forefathers hate abortion.”

“Our nation was created when the original group of sovereign states came together and formed a federated republic. Article I of the U.S. Constitution established that the national seat of government would be placed forever not within any state, but in a special Federal District — and that the Congress would ‘exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District.” But what would the Framers of our Constitution say if they returned today and learned, to their horror, that well-developed unborn babies are legally being put to death, in terrible pain, virtually within the shadow of the U.S. Capitol and the White House?

As of yet, we have not heard exactly who will be allowed to testify.  But we can guess that they will be predominately white, predominately male, and not people who actually represent the District of Columbia.

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  • ariel-dougherty

       Why is Rep. Franks (AZ) even trying to write laws that effect DC alone?  Home rule or the lack of it is the reason.  The District of Columbia is run by the US Congress and does not have full home rule, allowing them to write their own laws.  Rather paternalistic, no?   Yes!  There is a LONG history of this abuse by ideological Congressmen using the District as their “test case” for various issues.  It’s insulting and is certainly a violation of a core principle of the US Constitution about representative government.  Hey, Mr. Franks those living in DC didn’t elect you.  And last, let Congresswoman Norton speak.  She was elected by DC residents!

  • oak-cliff-townie

    I think it is preemptive damage control on their part I guess the reasoning is RUSH can’t call her names if she isn’t allowed to speak ?

    Remember how well that turned out for them. And him …

    And the worst part of that was Rush being Rush Stole the Spotlight from the committee who hosted the woman in the first place.

    This is so bleeping High school it is hard to make sense of it .



  • coralsea

    All I can think is that these losers are scared to death of women and believe they must be subjugated by whatever means necessary.

  • noworsethanusual

    Here is what the National Right to Life organization posted on its Facebook page, regarding  this flap:


    News flash: The Democrats on the House Judiciary Constitution Subcommittee had a discretionary witness slot for the May 17 hearing on H.R. 3803, the bill to prohibit abortion of pain-capable unborn children, after 20 weeks, in the District. The Democrats could have used that slot to invite Norton, or to invite any other person they chose to discuss the implications of the bill for “D.C. autonomy,” if they really thought that “D.C. autonomy” was the primary issue raised by this bill. But instead, the Democrats invited a woman who had a late abortion. Apparently, then, the Democrats in Congress who are really calling the shots — or the pro-abortion activist lobbyists who advise them what shots to call — think that this bill and this hearing are, first and foremost, about late abortions, not about “D.C. autonomy.” And we agree.

    To say it more bluntly: The Democrats decided Norton would not be their strongest witness — and then they put it out that the Republicans had “excluded” her. Another phony manufactured story for the blogosphere.

    We have found that many lawmakers are shocked to learn that in the nation’s capital, abortion is legal for any reason, to the moment of birth. Lawmakers who find this policy indefensible will be well advised to support this bill, because Article I of the Constitution makes it perfectly clear that the responsibility for the policy rests solely on them — and on the President. Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution provides that Congress shall “exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District…”

    I noticed that Norton’s press release again employed one of her favorite phrases, “bullying tactics.” In my book, abortionists are the ultimate bullies — they pull the arms and legs off babies who are a lot smaller than they are:

    Norton’s press release also repeats a misrepresentation that she has made before, asserting that the bill “targets… women who live in the District of Columbia…” Actually, the bill contains no reference whatever to residency. It applies to acts conducted within the District, a federal jurisdiction. Under the bill, it makes no difference whether a woman seeking an abortion after 20 weeks, or the abortionist, “live in the District of Columbia.” However, it may be of interest to note that what data there is, while sketchy, suggests that the majority of abortions performed in the District are performed on non-residents.

    Douglas Johnson
    Legislative Director
    National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).
    Washington, D.C. 20004
    federallegislation // at // nrlc, dot, org.

  • jennifer-starr

    Sounds more like the NRLC is doing PR/damage control to me–they were caught with egg on their face and now they have to find a way to ‘spin’ this. And it still fails to explain why someone who lives way over in Arizona should have anything to do with legislating to women who live in the DC area. Make no mistake–Franks is doing this to gain publicity for himself–it has nothing at all to do with ‘the baybees’.