The following is a joint post from NARAL Pro-Choice America and the D.C. Abortion Fund.
Here is news about women’s reproductive health care that you’re not likely to read in a lot of newspapers—but it’s an important development in removing an onerous obstacle to a woman’s ability to access safe, legal abortion.
The House Appropriations Committee is taking action on a bill tonight that allocates funds for Washington, D.C.—and there is good news for America’s pro-choice majority.
The bill follows President Obama’s lead (and NARAL Pro-Choice America’s recommendation) to lift the ban on D.C.’s ability to use locally raised funds for abortion services. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the city’s elected representative in Congress, fully supports this measure.
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As the D.C. Abortion Fund can attest, this ban’s effect on women is devastating. Women have had to sell their cars, get high-interest predatory loans (not even an option anymore), pawn wedding rings or other jewelry, sell their children’s toys, go without
electricity, or even risk eviction—all to pay for the abortion care they need.
Read many more heart-breaking stories for examples of what can happen when access to affordable reproductive health care is out of reach for women.
Historians will note that an anti-choice Congress imposed the ban 15 years ago—and anti-abortion politicians are not going to let this symbol of interference in D.C.’s local affairs go down without a fight.
Anti-choice members of the committee (Reps. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) and Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.), we are talking about you) are trying to reinsert the ban as this bill moves forward—and they could make their first attempt when the committee meets this Tuesday night.
Tiahrt and Davis’ allies on anti-choice blogs and news sites already are manufacturing outrage over this positive development for women’s health and safety in the nation’s capital.
What these right-wing sites won’t say is that no other jurisdiction or state is told how to use its locally raised revenue. One can just imagine how either Tiahrt or Davis would react if Congress were to try to change abortion-related laws in their states (by the way, Kansas gets a D- and Tennessee a D + on choice-related issues in NARAL Pro-Choice America’s annual report card).
Keep in mind, lifting this ban on the bill that allocates funds for D.C. gives the elected city leaders the ability to decide whether the District will use locally raised funds to ensure women have access to the full range of reproductive-health options, including safe, legal abortion. Removing this abortion ban means Congress has to accept and honor the decision D.C. leaders make.
Unfortunately, low-income women in D.C. and across the country continue to face intolerable burdens in accessing reproductive-health care. Lifting the D.C. ban won’t remove all of these obstacles, but it’s a step in the right direction.
As this bill makes it way through the legislative process, we will need the help of America’s pro-choice majority to make sure this 15-year-old symbol of anti-choice interference goes away.
Nancy Keenan is president of NARAL Pro-Choice America; Tiffany Reed is the president of the D.C. Abortion Fund.