- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The District’s sole voice in Congress is lambasting another Republican-backed bill aimed at limiting abortions solely within the nation’s capital.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton took a proactive stance against an anticipated bill from Rep. Justin Amash, Michigan Republican, that would prohibit minors from obtaining abortions in the District without parental consent, forbids non-doctors from performing abortions and provides protections for individuals or health care providers that refuse to perform abortions.

It arrives on the heels of a bill by Rep. Trent Franks, Arizona Republican, that bans abortions in the District after 20 weeks post-fertilization. The legislation has attracted almost 200 co-sponsors.The congressman from Michigan has not formally introduced the legislation, but signaled his intent to do so in a post on his Facebook page.

“We’re really finalizing the details of it,” Mr. Amash’s spokesman Will Adams said, noting its introduction should come within weeks. “We were looking for provisions that were overwhelmingly passed by states.”

But Ms. Norton, who represents an overwhelmingly Democratic city, fears that young members of Congress have been galvanized by Mr. Franks.

City leaders see the measures as an attack on the District’s self-determination and an affront to city residents who do not have a voting member of Congress.

The House Appropriations Committee reiterated a ban on locally funded abortions in the District in a spending bill it released on Tuesday. It also continues to prohibit the use of federal funds on the city’s medical marijuana and needle-exchange programs.

While Mayor Vincent C. Gray and Ms. Norton have decried those provisions, known as legislative “riders,” the congresswoman is highlighting the recent stand-alone bills as a new and potent threat to the District’s ability to govern its own affairs.

Mr. Franks and Mr. Amash argue that the Constitution has empowered Congress with legislative authority over the District, despite home-rule provisions that established a mayor and council for the District in the early 1970s.

Mr. Amash’s spokesman said the office would not get involved in most city issues, such as where to locate a traffic light, but the lives of the unborn are a pressing matter. He also felt some of the uproar over the bill — Ms. Norton sent out a press release decrying it on Tuesday night, after Mr. Amash’s May 31 Facebook posting came to her attention — was premature.

“I think maybe we should reserve some of that debate until the bill is actually introduced,” Mr. Adams said.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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