Congressman from Arizona Attacks Reproductive Rights of Women in D.C.

Rep. Trent Franks tramples on District home rule with latest anti-choice legislation
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(PRESS RELEASE) The Center for Reproductive Rights is urging members of the House of Representatives to reject the latest effort to restrict access to safe, legal reproductive health services for women in the District of Columbia after last night’s announcement that Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) has introduced federal legislation proposing a ban on all abortions performed after 20 weeks’ gestation in the District.

Franks’s latest attack on reproductive rights is an extreme intrusion into the District’s home rule, specifically targeting women who live more than 2,300 miles away from his home district.

“Rep. Franks has no business imposing his anti-choice agenda, and blatantly unconstitutional law, on women living thousands of miles away from those he represents in Congress,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The District must be allowed to provide reproductive healthcare services and protect women’s fundamental rights without congressional interference.”

The Supreme Court has repeatedly made it clear that states cannot ban abortion for any reason prior to the point at which a fetus is viable outside the womb. Franks’s proposal is an attempt to replace the constitutional viability standard with a ban at 20 weeks. In addition, the Supreme Court has consistently held that even after viability, women must be able to obtain abortions if their lives or health—including their mental health—are at risk.

However, under Franks’s proposed legislation, a post-20 week abortion would only allowed if a woman is near death or at risk of irreversible physical harm to a major bodily function. The bill would prohibit physicians from providing abortions to women who are suffering from a severe mental illness, who are suicidal, and those who learn of a severe fetal anomaly.

Congress has already interfered in the District’s autonomy and currently imposes a politically-motivated funding ban barring use of the District’s own local dollars for abortions for low-income women. The budget passed in December denies over 60,000 non-elderly Medicaid-enrolled women the comprehensive reproductive healthcare they need— despite the fact that such funding is supported by the duly elected City Council and Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.’s congressional representative.

Franks has recently re-introduced other extreme anti-choice legislative attacks on access to safe and legal abortion, including the “Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act” — an attempt to ban abortions done on the basis of sex or race.