Now this is how to be a pro-choice advocate! Last April after Congress passed a federal spending deal that included a temporary ban on Washington D.C. using District raised tax money from covering abortions for D.C. residents. Every state in the U.S. has the right to determine whether abortions will be covered under their Medicaid programs, but the federal government stripped D.C. of this right. This was in spite of the fact the District leaders and residents support Medicaid covering abortions.
After the deal was made D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and several D.C. council Members including Council Chairman Kwame Brown were arrested during a protest attended by over 200 people railing against the decision to not allow D.C. to spend its own money, specifically on abortions. The 44 arrested started their trials today and so far the verdicts have been on the light side. No fines have been issued over $200 and one person was acquitted. The lawyer hired to defend them said “This was a political trial, where we raised political issues… Just by raising awareness, we have achieved goals that we set out to achieve. More people are aware of the grievances of D.C. residents than were before this trial. To that extent we’re pleased.”
This comes on the back of the controversy being reignited by a newly proposed bill from the Chairmen of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Darrell Issa (R-Calif). The bill he proposed “would allow the district to start its fiscal year in July and to spend its local tax dollars before receiving explicit congressional approval to do so.” The bill comes with the provision that the ban on abortion spending must become permanent.
According to the Washington Post District leaders released a statement stating: “Particularly considering the many good provisions in Chairman Issa’s bill, we regret that we cannot accept it, and would have to strongly oppose it if it were introduced… We recognize that the abortion provision is what Chairman Issa believed would be necessary to get the bill passed in the House. But the views of others should not prevail over the views of our own residents. Our opposition to the provision to permanently prohibit the District from spending its local funds on abortion services for low-income women is as strong as the views of those outside our city who support it.”
So yeah, that’s how to be a pro-choice advocate and actually listen to the voice of your constituents. Rock on D.C.