In recent months, Arizona politicians have done a fantastic job of making me embarrassed to be from their state, but as a recent D.C. and current DMV-area resident, this just puts the awkward icing on the shame cake: Arizona Representative Trent Franks is in the middle of pushing a bill through the House that would ban abortions after 20 weeks (no exceptions for rape, incest, or health issues), in D.C.
What on earth is a politician from Arizona doing trying to legislate the rights of people who live 2,000 miles away? Oh right, it’s because D.C. does not have an elected official who has a vote in Congress, so Franks views the area as his own political playground. Franks, however, is not the only GOP member to have pulled a stunt like this. In 2011, He-of-the-Weepy-Eyes, John Boehner, forced Obama to concede funding for abortions in the District in the federal budget, and Republicans in the House enacted a bill that prohibits D.C. from using locally-raised funds to subsidize abortion for low-income women.
D.C. voting rights is a very sore subject for most D.C. residents, and I am going to avoid going too deep into it; however, I don’t think it takes being a D.C. resident or having more than six brain cells to see what is inherently wrong about a politician forcing unjust legislation on a state that he does not even represent. I find it insulting enough that politicians are forcing these unconstitutional laws upon their own constituents, but to have someone on the other side of the country attempt to restrict women’s rights really gets me stabby.
To make things even more insulting, for both D.C. and women in general, Franks refused to allow Eleanor Holmes Norton, the only elected representative for the area, to testify on the bill before a sub-committee. According to Franks, they had already chosen a witness to testify, a George Washington University professor; never mind the fact that denying Holmes the right to testify “breaks the tradition that a member of Congress testify about a bill that affects his or her constituents, which Congress has honored since the 19th century.”
So this man not only decides it is his business to legislate the rights of women who live on the opposite side of the country, but also that he has the right to deny their one representative the chance to speak about the bill. Franks defends himself by saying “Congress has the seminal and incontrovertible responsibility for making legislative policy in the District of Columbia.”
Translation: Despite my law having absolutely no basis in fact, I took the opportunity to force even more women to adhere to my own person moral standards.
Holmes, and District residents, are of course beyond outraged: “I think it takes a lot of nerve to single out the constituents of another member’s district for discriminatory treatment,” Holmes said, “…They’re bullies…they know that you can pick on the district whose member cannot vote on the House floor, you pick on a member who does not have any Senators to protect her.”
Bullies indeed. In slightly happier news, D.C. residents are planning on fighting back. Since Franks seems to be so interested in D.C. issues, they have designated May 23 as “Rep. Franks’ DC Constituent Service Day” and are calling on any District residents who are available to go to Franks’ office and complain about other problems that the District is facing. According to the DC Vote website:
“If ‘Mayor’ Franks is so eager to interfere in our community, let’s drop by his office to tell him what really needs fixing.” Examples include potholes, broken traffic lights, littering, and bike lane complaints.
Not that I think this will have any effect on Franks’ self-righteous attitude, but I can only hope that enough D.C. residents are able to find the time on Wednesday to make his workday a little bit harder.