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D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton was denied a chance to testify this afternoon about a bill to ban abortions in D.C. after 20 weeks of pregnancy. According to Norton herself, the battle goes beyond the District.
Holmes Norton is offended that the House GOP blocked her from testifying about a bill directed solely at her congressional district. Congressional decorum usually means letting a lawmaker appear at the start of a hearing involving their region. Not this time. She says the abortion legislation is being pushed by anti-abortion groups who plan to use a floor vote on it for national purposes.
"They would market it as, 'The Congress has now passed a bill that would limit abortions to 20 weeks, have your state do the very same!'" says Norton. "This is a very serious bill for women in this country. It is aimed far more at them than it is at us."
Republican Congressman Trent Franks held the hearing. He doesn't deny Holmes Norton's claim. Franks argues he wants the ban in the District to prevent women from other states from getting late term abortions.
"The vast majority of people who abort here in D.C. are not even residents, they do so because it's the place to do really very late terms abortions," said Franks.
D.C. resident and mother Christy Zink disagrees with Franks. Democrats chose her to testify on behalf of the minority, because she had an abortion at 21 weeks of pregnancy after finding her baby had severe brain damage.
"I am here to speak out against the so-called 'Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act,' said Zink at the hearing. "Its very premise, that it prevents pain, is a lie. If this bill had been passed before my pregnancy, I would have had to carry to term and give birth to a baby whom the doctors concurred had no chance of a life and who would have experienced near constant pain."
Franks' bill currently has more than 190 cosponsors. A companion Senate version has more than 20 sponsors.