The Office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today has been informed that Norton's request to testify at Thursday's hearing before the House Subcommittee on the Constitution's hearing on Thursday on a bill (H.R. 3803) that would ban abortions in the District of Columbia after 20 weeks of pregnancy was denied. Norton will speak for her constituents, however, at a press conference on the bill before the hearing at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday with D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Christy Zink, a George Washington University professor who had an abortion after 20 weeks because of tragic malformation of the fetus and who will testify against the bill as the witness called by the Democrats. Norton will submit written testimony. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) has introduced a companion bill (S. 2103) in the Senate.
In a letter sent last week to Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, and author of the bill, Norton asked to testify to represent the views of D.C. residents, as she is the only congressional representative elected by and accountable to them. Norton cited the long-standing, bipartisan tradition of allowing Members the courtesy of testifying in addition to the invited witnesses. Norton said that she was not surprised by the denial because the subcommittee had turned down her request last year to testify on a bill (H.R. 3) that would have permanently banned the District from spending its own funds for abortions for low-income women.
"Both bills have in common attempts to codify the far right ideology of Members of Congress and impose them with no accountability to the affected residents," Norton said. "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."