GOP War on Women Moves to DC
The District of Columbia is the latest front in the abortion battles, as a House subcommittee on Thursday heard testimony on a bill that would cut off women’s abortion access at 20 weeks gestation.
Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) introduced H.R. 3803 in January “to protect pain-capable unborn children in the District of Columbia.” The bill is modeled on legislation from the National Right to Life Committee, and mirrors efforts passed in a six states around the country in the past two years. Nebraska was the first to pass this type of legislation, in 2010, based on the much-contested premise that a fetus can feel pain 20 weeks after conception. Now National Right to Life legislative director Douglas Johnson says passing the DC measure is the group’s “top congressional priority for 2012.”
Because DC is treated as a ward of the federal government (at least it is whenever it’s politically convenient to do so), abortion here has become a major pawn in congressional fights. In the 2011 budget fight, a ban on using district funds to pay for abortions was used as a bargaining chip to secure an agreement. Now House Republicans are using it as a testing ground for a 20-week ban. The measure offers an exemption if the life of the woman is at the risk, but not in the cases of rape, incest, health risk to the mother, or fetal abnormalities.