Another Fight Looms on a 20-Week Abortion Ban for D.C.


In the wake of the media frenzy over the trial of Kermit Gosnell, anti-choice activists in every state are doing what they can to manipulate the coverage to press for restrictions that can be used to eliminate access to safe abortion care. Despite the fact that the closure of clinics and the passage of pre-viability abortion bans would lead to more, not fewer, instances where practitioners like Gosnell could prey on vulnerable and desperate patients, many politicians in the pocket of the far right are following former Senator Jim DeMint’s call for action and seeking new laws to propose in the name of “stopping Gosnells.”

Unsurprisingly, one target is the District of Columbia, which is controlled to a great degree by the U.S. Congress. The home of so many U.S. Senators and Representatives eager to “burnish” their profiles and feed red meat to their bases, D.C. is ripe for restrictions simply because it’s the one place lawmakers can back laws without ever worrying about repercussions from the voters on which those laws are imposed.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton knows that well, and that’s why she’s preemptively coming after Republicans plotting against the city.

Holmes Norton is sounding the warning shot against Rep. Trent Franks (R – Arizona) and the rumors that he is once more planning to submit a 20-week ban for D.C. residents.

“When the far right comes forward with extreme proposals to infringe on the rights of women, like Congressman Franks’ proposal to single D.C. out with a 20-week abortion ban, they end up fighting amongst themselves, fragmented and in disarray throughout the country,” said Norton in a statement. “The pro-choice movement, in contrast, is unified, and with them, we will combat the insatiable Republican obsession with interfering with the rights of women in our city, as we have successfully done before.  The process of defeating the bill last year significantly mobilized and strengthened the pro-choice movement and was felt in November.”

Franks’ bill failed in 2012, even in the GOP-controlled House, and is unlikely to be any more successful this year, unless the “success” he is seeking is to solidify his place in the religious right. Still, Franks seems to like imposing his anti-choice views onto people he doesn’t represent, ranging from his refusal to let Holmes Norton speak during the debate for the bill that would affect her own constituents to exporting his opinions on how abortion is never medically necessary overseas and injecting them into other countries’ debates.

No wonder the Delegate from D.C. is speaking out even before a bill is proposed. Based on past history, that may be her only chance to be heard at all.

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

Follow Robin Marty on twitter: @robinmarty