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Lawmaker Expands D.C. Anti-Abortion Bill Nationwide

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D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, shown here at a D.C. budget protest in December, is speaking out against a bill introduced Feb. 20 that would restrict certain abortions in the District of Columbia.
Markette Smith
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, shown here at a D.C. budget protest in December, is speaking out against a bill introduced Feb. 20 that would restrict certain abortions in the District of Columbia.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton is claiming a victory for pro-choice advocates in the District.

A bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks in D.C. is now being extended to the entire nation. Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks says he decided to make the change after Kermit Gosnell, an abortion doctor in Pennsylvania, was recently convicted of murder.

Holmes Norton predicts it will be easier to defeat the effort now that it's aimed at women across the nation.

"One of our major concerns was the focus exclusively on us," she says. "We couldn't imagine a principled reason for that; we could only see a tactical reason, the easy way out. They hoped without arousing the rest of the country, was to go after the District. Well, we made it our business to arouse the rest of the country."

Holmes Norton was initially scheduled to testify this week on Frank's D.C. bill, an opportunity she was denied last year. But she says she may not need to testify now that it doesn't single out District residents.

"Their release says they are, quote expanding the bill, in which case it would not be a D.C. bill any longer," she says. "That was the basis on which I asked for, and this time got the right to testify."

The legislation is coming before the Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution on Thursday. A companion bill in the Senate will remain focused solely on abortion laws in the District.

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