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DC delegate blocked from testifying on abortion bill | Politics

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DC delegate blocked from testifying on abortion bill

CAPITOL HILL (WUSA9) -- DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton blasted a House Republican subcommittee chair she was denied a chance to speak on a bill to permanently ban the city from spending its own tax money on abortions for low-income women.

Chairman Trent Franks (R-AZ) says Delegate Norton could have testified, but only as the Democrats sole witness on the 'No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act'. "The minority was entirely free to invite Ms Norton as their witness."

Democrats say the bill hits women across the country. And they say allowing Norton to testify is a common courtesy almost always extended to members of the House.

"The District of Columbia is not a colony," said the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York ." It's part of the United States. It's people are entitled to be treated with the same respect that we demand for the people we represent. Never in my twenty years in this body have I seen a colleague in this body have I seen a colleague treated with as much contempt as our colleague from DC is being treated today."

"The District of Columbia is the seat of government according to the Constitution, and not a state," responded Rep. Franks. "And consequently, we will proceed."

The bill goes well beyond DC. It bans federal subsidies for health plans that cover abortion. It prevents women from using their own flexible spending accounts to pay for abortions. And it disallows women from deducting abortion costs from their taxes under medical expenses.

"It's a mockery of American democracy," said Norton.

Democrats say the bill has no chance in the Senate. But Mayor Vincent Gray (D-DC) says the city has to fight for home rule every time its challenged in Congress.

The subcommittee chair did allow Del. Norton to submit her testimony in writing.


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