The office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said that Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) on Wednesday introduced the second anti-choice bill, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7/S. 946),within the last month that infringes on the local authority of the District of Columbia. The bills would make permanent prohibitions on federal funding for abortion included in annual appropriations bills, including the Hyde amendment, barring the use of federal funds for abortion, and, in addition, would make permanent the prohibition included in annual D.C. Appropriation bill that prohibits the District from using its local taxpayer-raised funds for abortion for local low-income women. To accomplish its interference with a local jurisdiction, the bill takes the unprecedented step of redefining the free-standing D.C. jurisdiction as part of the federal government for the purpose of abortion. The bill, attacking the District's right to home rule, comes less than a month after Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced bills that would ban all abortions after 20 weeks (with limited exceptions,) in only one local jurisdiction, the District of Columbia.
Several years ago, Norton succeeded in removing all annual bans on the District's use of its local funds, including for abortions for low-income women, needle exchange, and medical marijuana. Only the annual abortion rider has been re-imposed.
The bill represents an expanded way to interfere with the District's right to self-government. Historically, Republicans have attached riders to annual appropriations bills banning the District from using its local funds for certain activities only during that fiscal year. With introduction of this bill, Republicans seek to make it more difficult to remove the D.C. abortion rider, which Norton succeeded in doing in the 111th Congress, since it would be permanent. Last Congress, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which included the permanent D.C. abortion funding ban, passed the House but was not taken up in the Senate.
"This attempt to make existing annual prohibitions permanent shows the bankruptcy of the do-nothing Republican agenda so far in the 113th Congress," said Norton. "Including a local jurisdiction in the bill, however, goes further and betrays the standard Republican rhetoric on local control and no federal interference in local affairs. Including the District's local funds in a bill concerning federal funds guarantees a tough fight that will alert women across the country, who last year showed they will respond to interference with the reproductive rights of women."