DC Abortion Fund Urges Rejection of H.R. 3803 to Preserve Autonomy for D.C. Women

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution will hold a hearing Thursday on House bill H.R. 3803, which would ban abortions in the District of Columbia performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy.  The bill, introduced by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), has no exceptions for cases of rape, incest, or fetal anomaly. The bill and hearing represent an attack on reproductive, legal, and budgetary autonomy for the District of Columbia and its residents.

DC Abortion Fund Board President Val Vilott issued the following statement in response:

“The decision to have an abortion is a personal one. The hearing today has nothing to do with a true concern for the District of Columbia and everything to do with anti-choice rhetoricians overstepping the bounds of personal privacy to pursue their own agenda above our nation’s values.

The rights of all women to make decisions about their health care, in private and with the care of a doctor, should be unalienable. For a country that prides itself on the right to privacy and individual autonomy, political interference of this sort is inexcusable. H.R. 3803 is particularly abhorrent, as it denies the right to choose from women who could be in tragic situations, without regard to instances of rape, incest, or fetal anomaly.

Unfortunately, this legislation represents more of the same that we have come to expect out of the vocal anti-choice contingent in Congress. We have seen repeated congressional attacks on women’s reproductive autonomy and a complete disregard for the District’s legal and budgetary autonomy.

In April 2011, the federal government reinstated the D.C. abortion ban to appease congressional leaders who threatened a government shutdown. The ban prevents the District of Columbia from using its own, locally-raised revenues to fund abortion care through Medicaid. Now, with H.R. 3803, the Congress is again singling out the women of D.C. Congress does not meddle this way in the affairs of any state, and should similarly refrain from interfering in the District’s local matters.

Representative Franks’ disregard for the autonomy of the District of Columbia is particularly egregious since District residents have no voting representation in Congress. By refusing to even allow Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton the opportunity to testify at today’s hearing, Representative Franks and the Subcommittee demonstrated that they prioritize their own political agenda over the rights and health of D.C. residents. In light of today’s hearing, we urge Congress to reject H.R. 3803 and all attempts to undermine abortion rights and the District’s autonomous right to self-rule.”