“I think those who support reproductive rights for women in D.C. also support D.C. home rule,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who orchestrated the CBC’s efforts here and said a meeting with their Senate supporters was in the works. “This is also a war against women, and it really seems to target low-income women and women of color in D.C.”
DC Vote, a leading organization backing District autonomy, is also calling on partners of its movement to oppose the legislation. NARAL Pro-Choice America said it is “already working with our national and D.C.-based coalition partners to prepare our allies in Congress to fight against a harmful abortion ban.”
Anti-abortion lawmakers see the issue differently.
“It’s too bad they even bring this issue of autonomy up because if you look at the Constitution — and I’m the chairman of the [House Judiciary] Constitution Subcommittee, so this isn’t something I take lightly — you see there is no possible rational argument that Congress doesn’t have the full right to legislate in the District of Columbia,” Franks said. “Even a liberal lawyer is going to have a hard time twisting that.”
National Right to Life Committee Legislative Director Douglas Johnson said that, above all else, the capital city should uphold a moral standard.
“The nation’s capital belongs to all the American people, and we don’t think most Americans believe their capital ought to be the capital of late-term abortions,” Johnson said.
The House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees would share jurisdiction over the bill. Neither committee’s staff had a sense of whether or when the measure might be considered, though Franks said he hopes his subcommittee will take it up “within the next couple of months.”
Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has won some positive reviews from District officials recently for supporting increased budget autonomy for D.C., but he also opposes abortion and is a co-sponsor of Franks’ bill.
“The purpose of Rep. Issa’s efforts to grant the District greater control over its own budget isn’t to eliminate Congress’ constitutional authority over the District,” Issa spokesman Frederick Hill said.