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Eleanor Holmes Norton, elected delegate in the House of Representatives for the District of Columbia
Eleanor Holmes Norton. Wonderful voice, no vote.
The District of Columbia has a great congressional representative in Eleanor Holmes Norton. But she only gets to represent D.C. part way. She's elected but she has no vote. That fact was the excuse that Arizona Rep. Trent Franks used to keep her from testifying in May on a bill—HR 3803—that would ban abortions in D.C. after 20 weeks of gestation. No exceptions are allowed for rape, incest or the health of the woman. The bill includes penalties for abortion providers of up to two years in prison and a fine.

Having been given its warm-up in subcommittee hearings, the bill goes before the full House Judiciary Committee Wednesday for its mark-up. And once again, Norton will be excluded from speaking a word about it.

Not that what Norton has to say on the subject will sway committee members already committed to telling D.C. residents what they are allowed to do in what should be a matter between a woman and her physician. Franks and like-minded politicians are working diligently—an adverb not often appropriate to describe them—to pass such laws in every state they can. They don't really care what the 600,000 residents of D.C. think.

Since she won't be allowed to speak at the mark-up, Norton has issued a statement that will be included in the written record. An excerpt:

Some are debating whether House Republicans have been engaging in a “war on women” in our country. What is not debatable is the fixation of the Republican majority on depriving the women of the District of the reproductive rights that all other Americans enjoy. This bill, however, is another abuse of power and denial of democratic rights. The committee, acting at the insistence of special interest organizations, is using District women to abet a national campaign to defy Roe v. Wade, the law of the land. Instead of introducing a nationwide post-20-week abortion ban, the campaign has taken the bill to conservative states and to Congress, but only for District women. [...]

District women are the chosen vehicle, but the targets of the national campaign are women of the nation. If this bill is passed in the House, it will be used to show a federal imprimatur, however bogus or limited, for the purpose of encouraging other jurisdictions to defy Roe v. Wade. Thus, H.R. 3803 goes beyond the tactics these same forces used to bring the federal government (and with it, the District government) to within an hour of shutting down in April 2011, which was avoided only after they succeeded in re-imposing an undemocratic rider on a spending bill to prohibit the District from spending its own local funds on abortions for low-income women. [...]

H.R. 3803 is unprincipled twice over. As to the District, it is the first bill ever introduced in Congress that would deny constitutional rights to the citizens of only one jurisdiction in our country. It is also the first bill ever introduced in Congress that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Its application to District women is a cover for its underlying purpose: to undermine Roe v. Wade in other jurisdictions in the United States. [...]

Today, the committee invites the outrage of women far beyond the borders of the District, where the bill seeks its ultimate targets.

From Delegate Norton: Arrow. Zing. Bullseye.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 03:01 PM PDT.

Also republished by Abortion and Daily Kos.

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