National Partnership for Women & Families

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From the desk of ... Debra L. Ness

The Women of D.C. Deserve Better

July 18, 2012 | Reproductive Health

For decades, Congress has unfairly restricted women's access to reproductive health services in the District of Columbia in ways it is unable to do in the states.

For example, every state has the right to fund abortion services for its residents - and 17 states do - yet Congress prohibits the District of Columbia from funding the same care.

Today's actions by the House Judiciary Committee continue this abysmal tradition. A bill introduced by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and passed by the committee would ban abortion in the District after 20 weeks of pregnancy, regardless of how the abortions are funded. Not only does this bill blatantly violate Supreme Court precedent, it is harmful and disrespectful to women.

As with all abortions, a woman is in the best position to make the right decision for herself and her family. Prohibitions on abortion after 20 weeks are cruel and dangerous. They force women whose health is endangered or whose fetus will not survive to continue to carry a pregnancy to term no matter what the physical and mental ramifications. The bill provides no exceptions for the health of the mother and only very limited exceptions to protect her life.

All members of Congress should agree that these extremely personal medical decisions should be made by a woman and her doctor, not by elected officials who don't even represent her. The women of the District of Columbia deserve better.


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