The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Ted Miller, 202.973.3032

Pro-Choice Americans Call on Congress to Stop Attack on D.C. Women's Freedom and Privacy


Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, today joined Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mayor Vincent Gray, and other civil and reproductive rights leaders to amplify their opposition to anti-choice bills that would undermine the ability of women in the city to make personal, private medical decisions with their doctors.

The press conference comes one week after the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing on H.R.3803, a bill introduced by anti-choice Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), to ban abortion at 20 weeks in the District of Columbia, without consideration for the woman's situation, including cases of rape, incest, or fetal anomaly. District of Columbia resident Christy Zink, who had an abortion at 21 weeks and five days after doctors found a cyst on the brain of the fetus and a follow-up MRI revealed severe fetal anomalies of the brain, testified at the hearing. If the ban proposed by the bills had been in effect, Zink would not have had this option in D.C.

The House bill is modeled after an abortion ban enacted in Nebraska in 2010. So far, seven more states followed Nebraska's lead and now anti-choice organizations are pressuring Congress to override local elected leaders and impose this ban on the women of D.C. Keenan addressed these attacks at the news conference. Her remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow:

On behalf of our one million supporters nationwide, I am honored to join Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mayor Vincent Gray, and the other leaders here today.

We believe that no woman's constitutional right to choose should depend upon her ZIP code or her income.

Unfortunately, too many members of Congress disagree with this core value--and they're using Washington, D.C. as a testing ground to interfere in the personal, private decisions that women make with their doctors. We have seen what happens to women in this city when some members of Congress try to play mayor or councilmember.

Just last year, anti-choice lawmakers in the House of Representatives used a must-pass budget bill to reimpose a law that bars the District of Columbia from using its own local dollars to provide low-income residents with access to abortion.

What happened to women as a result of this callous and mean-spirited action?

At just one local clinic here in the District, 28 women were caught in the political crossfire. They had scheduled appointments when funding was legal just a matter of days...Congress intervened and these 28 women had appointments but no way to pay for them. Local charities scrambled to help - but that's just one clinic, one day.

No one knows what happened to the women with appointments for the next day or the day after that.

Can any of us imagine how it would feel to make a medical appointment only to discover that Congress has decided to intervene the day before?

What's worse is that the politicians behind this disgraceful law, most notably Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, aren't finished.

They are targeting D.C. women with yet another anti-abortion bill.

This latest attack would ban abortion at 20 weeks, without consideration for the woman's situation or protections for her health, or even in the cases of rape or incest.

The D.C.-related attacks are part of a broader War on Women.

Let's look at the facts, just in case someone tries to tell you that the War on Women is not real.

Last year, the House held eight votes on choice-related issues, the highest number in more than a decade.

And they aren't stopping.

On Wednesday, the House is scheduled to vote on a bill that, contrary to its title of the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, does nothing to address the serious issues of sex discrimination or gender bias in society. NARAL Pro-Choice America has long opposed reproductive coercion in any form--including societal pressures to have a child of a particular sex. However, this legislation is unenforceable and unworkable. It essentially turns medical professionals into mind readers by requiring them to report even suspicions that sex is a factor in a woman's decision to terminate a pregnancy. It even threatens doctors and other medical professionals with prison sentences. This bill is a clear intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship and is designed to continue chipping away at a woman's right to choose.

This bill was written by the notorious Rep. Franks, who has voted against equal pay, prenatal care, and contraception.

The hypocrisy of Rep. Franks represents cynical politics at their worst.

Thus far, anti-choice House leaders have lined up no fewer than five separate bills with anti-abortion provisions for floor action this session.

This far-reaching agenda is out of touch with our country's values and priorities--and we are fully prepared to fight back against these egregious attacks on a woman's right to choose.

Last year, NARAL delivered nearly 135,000 signatures in opposition to the D.C. abortion ban.

We already have channeled thousands of messages in opposition to the latest legislative attack on D.C. women.

As we fight the battles of today, we also must change who controls the U.S. House of Representatives.

NARAL Pro-Choice America elects pro-choice candidates and supports pro-choice policies.

We know that the best way to change this situation is to elect more members who share our values and won't try to moonlight as members of the D.C. City Council.

Delegate Norton, Mayor Gray, our nationwide network of activists and our pro-choice allies here today stand with you and are ready to continue to fight for the women of D.C.

For over 50 years, Reproductive Freedom for All (formerly NARAL Pro-Choice America) has fought to protect and advance reproductive freedom at the federal and state levels—including access to abortion care, birth control, pregnancy and post-partum care, and paid family leave—for everybody. Reproductive Freedom for All is powered by its more than 4 million members from every state and congressional district in the country, representing the 8 in 10 Americans who support legal abortion.