House Committee Votes to Eliminate Ban on District Using Local Money for Abortion Services
New York—The Center for Reproductive Rights strongly urges Congress to repeal the ban on funding for abortion services specifically targeted at Washington, D.C. Late last night, the House Appropriations Committee voted to discontinue prohibiting the District of Columbia from using local tax money to pay for abortions for low-income women. Currently Congress only allows the District to pay for abortion in extremely limited circumstances – when a woman’s life is endangered, or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. Although the funding ban has been included in the Financial Services Appropriations bill almost every year since 1988, President Obama did not include it in his proposed 2010 budget. Members of the committee followed the President’s recommendation and voted 26 to 33 to eliminate the funding restriction. “The committee vote sends a strong message to Congress—denying the District of Columbia the power given all 50 states prevents it from protecting the health of its constituents, nearly a third of whom rely on government funding as their only means of medical care,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Currently seventeen states across the country use their own public dollars to fund abortion services, guaranteeing poor women the full range of reproductive healthcare. It’s time for Congress to repeal the ban on abortion funding in D.C. and allow the District to do the same.” D.C. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton has also called for her colleagues to lift the ban. Until 1988, D.C. used its own funds to pay for abortions for low-income women. However, unlike the states, the capital city is subject to the jurisdiction of Congress, which has, from 1988 until 1993, and again since 1995, prohibited the District from deciding for itself whether to fund abortions other than in the cases of risk to life or in cases of rape or incest.