Committee approves Franks’ bill to limit abortions in D.C.

Jul 24, 2012, 6:46 AM | Updated: 6:47 am

WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee Wednesday approved a bill by Rep. Trent Franks, R-Glendale, to ban abortions in the District of Columbia after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

It came over the vehement opposition of city officials, who accused Franks of using the “District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” to make political points at the expense of district residents who oppose the bill.

“We resent to our core that we were used by Rep. Franks and by anti-abortion forces to make ideological points,” said Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., the city’s non-voting delegate to Congress.

If its supporters truly believed in the bill, they would make it apply nationally and not just in the district, Norton said. But Franks knows “that no changes would make this bill acceptable to the entire nation,” she said.

But Franks defended the bill, saying it is up to Congress to protect the rights of fetuses.

“If it’s a local prerogative to torture pain-capable children, then it’s the responsibility of Congress to respond,” he said.

Franks said the bill was needed because the city repealed most of its abortion restrictions earlier this year. But Norton said the district has done nothing more than what about a dozen states have done.

The bill makes it a crime for a physician to perform or attempt to perform an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless the woman’s life was endangered by the pregnancy. Penalties for violating the law include fines and up to two years in prison.

The bill would let anyone who has been a woman’s health provider seek an injunction to block an abortion. Democrats said that could give a school nurse or a woman’s childhood pediatrician the ability to stop an abortion or stall it until it the pregnancy was well past the 20-week mark.

Democrats were particularly concerned that the bill does not make broad enough exceptions for the health of the mother or for women who were pregnant as a result of rape or incest, among other circumstances.

“The Constitution requires that any restriction on access to abortion provide an exception to protect the life or health of a woman,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.

The bill does allow an abortion if “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function” is at stake. Franks dismissed criticism such as Nadler’s as diversions from the main goal of protecting fetuses from feeling pain at 20 weeks — a concept that opponents challenge.

“This is about 20 weeks,” Franks said.

Nadler’s amendment to exempt a woman from the 20-week limit if her health, not just her life, was at risk failed on a party-line vote, as did two other Democratic amendments. The committee voted 18-14, also along party lines, to approve the bill and send it to the full House.

“I’m grateful that it passed,” Franks said. “I’m sorry that it was distorted so dramatically.”

Norton said the bill, with 215 co-sponsors, has a good chance of passing the House. Its fate is much less certain in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

“He’s ganging up on the district, he’s abusing congressional power,” Norton said of Franks. “Because the home rule act never envisions that you can introduce separate bills for us and nobody else.”

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

FILE - A street sign leads to what was once the home of Paul Adams and his family on the outskirts ...
Associated Press

Judge limits privilege defense in Arizona religious sex abuse case

An Arizona judge overseeing a high-profile lawsuit accusing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of conspiring to cover-up child sex abuse has ruled that the church may not refuse to answer questions or turn over documents under the state’s “clergy-penitent privilege.”
17 hours ago
Jose Avalos (Chandler Police Photo)...

Silver Alert issued for 57-year-old man with dementia last seen in Chandler

A Silver Alert was issued Thursday for a 57-year-old man with dementia who was last seen in Chandler.
17 hours ago
Arizona Department of Public Safety photo...

Arizona Department of Public Safety arrests man with 162 pounds of meth

The AZDPS made an arrest on Thursday after a traffic stop led to the discovery of 162 pounds of meth near Cordes Junction.
17 hours ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Kevin Stone

Georgia man sentenced to decade in prison by judge in Arizona in romance scam case

A federal judge in Arizona sentenced a Georgia man to nearly 11 years in prison for conspiring to defraud more than $1 million in a romance scam that targeted elderly victims.
17 hours ago
Democrat Katie Hobbs (left) and Republican Kari Lake, candidates for governor in Arizona's 2022 gen...
Kevin Stone

Here’s how Hobbs-Lake race for Arizona governor echoes 2016 presidential contest

A Valley pollster says the way the race for governor in Arizona is starting reminds him of a previous matchup between a fiery media personality and an established politician.
17 hours ago
(Photo by Jeff Topping/Getty Images)...
Danny Shapiro

Storms on Friday, Saturday could bring flooding, over 2 inches of rain to most of metro Phoenix

A meteorologist says the strongest storm system of the monsoon season will hit metro Phoenix over the next couple of days.
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
Committee approves Franks’ bill to limit abortions in D.C.