None of the GOP’s “Experts” on Abortion Policy in D.C. Are Actually From D.C.

D.C. resident Christy Zink was excited to be pregnant in 2009. She and her husband were looking forward to having their second child, and Zink made sure she was receiving excellent prenatal care. At 21 weeks into her pregnancy Zink found out the developing fetus was missing a central part of its brain.

In her congressional testimony Thursday against the so-called “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” Zink said she made the difficult decision to have an abortion at nearly 22 weeks.

H.R. 3803, Rep. Trent Franks’ (R-National Right to Life Committee) latest attempt to curb reproductive rights, would make abortions illegal 20 weeks after fertilization, and would only apply to Washington, D.C.

If Christy Zink had carried her pregnancy to term and the baby lived through it, which wasn’t guaranteed, it would have suffered a short life of seizures and near-constant pain. If H.R. 3803 were in effect in 2009, she and the doctors who advised her on her options and performed the procedure would have been subject to criminal prosecution.

Zink was the only D.C. resident allowed to testify at yesterday’s hearing, as Arizona’s Franks, the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, defied congressional custom and blocked D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton from speaking on a bill that would affect only her constituents.

The Republican majority called on three witnesses (from New Mexico, Chicago and West Virginia a.k.a. not D.C.) to speak on “fetal pain,” a concept dismissed by the majority of the medical community. Yet Franks and company found three “experts” to give testimony on something completely unrelated to the fact that this bill would only change the law for the more than 600,000 taxpaying residents of the nation’s capital. 

While sitting only a few feet away from Zink, Franks’ witness Dr. Anthony Levatino, who currently operates a gynecology practice in New Mexico, testified that an abortion, particularly an abortion after 20 weeks, is “easier” on the patient than the doctor. This is incredibly offensive to anyone who has ever had an abortion, especially later in her pregnancy. Zink elected to have the procedure because something terrible happened during a wanted pregnancy. This is hardly an uncommon scenario, yet H.R. 3803 makes no exceptions for fetal anomalies. Other times, due to the numerous restrictions on funding, a woman might have trouble coming up with the money for her procedure before the 20-week mark. (The DC Abortion Fund is a great resource for local women who cannot afford their reproductive care.) Whatever the reason a woman may choose to have an abortion before or after 20 weeks, to imply a procedure is “easier” for women is completely out of touch with women and the many wonderful and compassionate abortion providers across the country.

Levatino said he performed abortions earlier in his career, and he described the procedure and his eventual dislike of it in explicit detail. Any medical procedure or routine trip to the doctor can sound positively gruesome when described with the proper adjectives (try detailing your last dental cleaning with the help of Anti-choice activists like Levatino are most successful when they have us all cringing instead of thinking rationally.

But H.R. 3803 doesn’t allow for much science and reason. Reason would dictate that legislation that’s based on legitimate science, instead of the sentiments of a few anti-choice activists, would be good enough for the whole country instead of just Washington, D.C. But, you know, that would be unconstitutional.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact

Follow Alesa Mackool on twitter: @alesacm

  • cmarie

    If H.R. 3803 were in effect in 2009, she and the doctors who advised her on her options and performed the procedure would have been subject to criminal prosecution.

    What “procedure” is that?  Obviously at 22 weeks it’s not a d&c.  Could you describe it please?  Many thanks

  • crowepps

    When coping with a anencephalic fetus, the gross deformity itself and the fact that the deformity is a death sentence is far ickier than any details of a procedure used to remove it before it can feel pain, in order to safeguard the woman’s health, and forestall her having to spend another FOUR MONTHS using up her own body to grow a pre-dead fetus as large as possible before its inevitable death.

    Since a woman who chooses for her own reasons to endure that four months of despair is entirely free to do so, and most of us have the empathy to recognize just how difficult that is for her and how much of a sacrifice she is voluntarily making, it puzzles me very much why anybody would want to INFLICT a similar four months of torture on a woman unwilling to see any reason for or unable to bear prolonged physical risk and fruitless emotional pain.

    Catholic dogma sure is focused on creating those circumstances which will result in the maximum possible amount of suffering for women.

  • oak-cliff-townie

    Let me help here.

    Necessary  procedures  D&C and others are what women who are the good graces of the  All Coitus =  Conception crowd have .

    An abortion is what everyone else has .

    Hope that helps

  • logician

    It is interesting that you talk about there being no reason or science asscociated with those in favor of HR 3803, but then go on to report that the 3 individuals testifying are all members of the medical field. The contrary witness is an individual speaking from an emotional perspective. 

    It seems a disservice to your own viewpoint that you indicate that legislation should be passed using science and reason as a barometer, but your only attack for Levatino’s testimony is that he “offensively” indicated that it may be easier for a patient than a doctor to go though an abortion; a point which you make, again, from an emotional (rather than rational) perspective and is subjective in nature one way or the other.