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Franks Reintroduces His Bill to Interfere with the Rights of D.C. Women and of Local Government


Location: Washington, DC

Once again, Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, introduced a bill to ban all abortions in the District of Columbia after 20 weeks (with limited exceptions), just before leaving for recess on Friday. Last Congress, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), her pro-choice congressional allies, and a coalition of 100 national and local organizations defeated the bill in a vote on the House floor. The bill, which would prohibit such abortions in only one jurisdiction, the District, broadens congressional attacks on women who live in the District and on home rule.

"Trent Franks and the anti-choice groups are about to find out that our resistance to the anti-democratic use of federal power against our local jurisdiction and the reproductive freedom of our women equals their persistence in trying to violate our rights," Norton said. "The continued interference with the rights of D.C. women has united the pro-choice movement with D.C. more than ever, and has prepared us to once again fight and defeat Franks' comeback attempt to undemocratically usurp the local authority of American citizens who did not elect him and who have no way to hold him accountable for singling out women who live in D.C. for infringement of their constitutional rights. There will never be a justification for denying the federal taxpaying residents of the nation's capital the same rights as other American citizens. If Representative Franks believes his bill represents sound policy, he would not introduce a bill that applies to only one jurisdiction. He would not add to his attempt to intentionally violate women's constitutional rights here, the additional constitutional violation of discriminatory treatment."

Last Congress, Franks denied Norton the right to testify at his committee's hearing on his D.C. abortion ban bill, H.R. 3803, as well as on H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which, among other things, would have permanently banned the District from spending its local funds on abortion services for low-income women.

Last month, NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the groups that led the coalition to defeat Franks' D.C. abortion ban bill last Congress, informed Senators that they intended to "score" a vote on an amendment Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) filed to the Senate's budget resolution expressing the Sense of the Senate that Congress should pass legislation banning abortions in the District of Columbia after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The organizations decided to score the vote without prompting by Norton, an indication that pro-choice groups do not intend to leave D.C. to special interests that use the city's women for their national agenda. The Lee amendment was not brought up for a vote.

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