The Politics Of Abortion In The Mainland Colony

There’s a very good Washingtonian article about what will happen to women’s medical care if Roe v. Wade is repealed–definitely worth the read. But it also describes what happens to public policy when you’re governed under the ethos of extreme taxation with representation. From the article (boldface mine):

The Constitution grants Congress “full legislative authority” over the District. But in reality, it’s extremely unlikely. For one thing, it’d have to pass both chambers, and would be subject to a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. And for the last two decades, Congress has mostly sought to influence the city via the budget process rather than out-and-out legislation. A 20-week DC abortion ban introduced by Arizona Representative Trent Franks in 2012 didn’t even get out of committee…

Since DC budgets are passed in Congress’ yearly appropriations bills, those bills sometimes carry riders that dictate what the District can and cannot do with their money. (There are currently a number of them looming, including one to repeal DC’s assisted suicide law and another to block funding for a 2014 act that protects women from discrimination based on their reproductive health decisions.) Those riders usually try to stop something that’s being proposed—as when [Republican] Georgia Representative Bob Barr famously authored a spending bill amendment that both prevented DC from implementing a 1998 a referendum legalizing medical marijuana and sealed the results of the vote. (Months later, residents learned it passed by 69 percent, but to no avail: the Barr Amendment stayed in place for 11 years). But while riders have frustrated locals for years, DC Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton has lately had fairly good luck holding up the efforts despite her status as a non-voting member of the minority…

The referendum to amend the Home Rule Act of 1973, which lays out the city-Congress relationship, passed overwhelmingly, but the legality of the amendment has remained controversial ever since. The change was blocked in federal court in 2014, but a judge upheld it in March 2016. The House has tried to repeal it with riders in each budget bill, but it hasn’t happened yet, partially thanks to Congresswoman Norton. They’re trying it again in the 2019 bill, too. For now, the city acts like the budget amendment is valid, and Congress acts like it’s not. That means each year it gives the city permission to spend its local money just like it did before…

You’d think so, but history suggests we shouldn’t be so confident [in Democrats adding the District]. In a 2011 budget deal, Barack Obama traded away public funding for abortion—with DC’s own local tax dollars, not federal money—as part of a deal with Republican House Speaker John Boehner. But in a hypothetical future world without Roe, fighting for abortion rights could become a major Democratic coalition-builder and a winning issue rather than an obscure sidebar like the 2011 abortion-funding flap.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ?!? Don’t worry, we might get whacked too (boldface mine):

House Republicans passed two measures Thursday that would block the District from requiring that all residents have health insurance, opening a new front in congressional efforts to rein in the city’s government.

In addition to measures targeting D.C.’s version of the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act, lawmakers passed restrictions against using local funding to help low-income women obtain abortions, to commercialize recreational marijuana and to allow terminally ill patients to end their lives.

All told, the spending bill includes seven attempts to override the will of local elected officials — the most in at least a decade…

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said the heavily Democratic nation’s capital will continue to be vulnerable to similar attacks as long as its laws and finances remain under the thumb of the GOP-controlled Congress.

Until we have statehood, the will of Washingtonians will continue to be overturned by members of Congress who represent neither the people nor values of Washington, D.C.,” she said in a statement. “Rather than working to erase progress that has made Washington, D.C. a safer, stronger city, Congress should focus on the many pressing issues before them.

D.C. has been touted as one of the Affordable Care Act’s greatest success stories. The rate of uninsured D.C. residents was cut in half after the law was enacted, from 7.6 percent in 2010 to 3.8 percent in 2015, according to a report last year by the D.C. Auditor’s Office.

The bulk of those who benefited were Medicaid participants. During fiscal 2016, D.C. had a monthly average of 261,768 people covered under Medicaid, or nearly 40 percent of the population. Of those, 75,828 gained coverage through the ACA Medicaid expansion…

In addition to the insurance mandate limits, the House spending bill includes measures to block the city from using local tax money to subsidize abortion for low-income women and to regulate the sale of recreational marijuana — both of which were enacted last year.

Not yet enacted are provisions to prevent the city from using local tax money to implement its assisted-suicide law, known as Death With Dignity, and to repeal the District’s right to spend its own tax money.

[Republican Congressman] Palmer previously introduced a measure to block a city law that says employers cannot discriminate against workers based on their reproductive health decisions, known as the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act, but that was already in the spending proposal this year.

Just as one can’t separate economic autonomy from physical autonomy, one also can’t separate political power from control over one’s body. The political plight of the Mainland Colony makes that abundantly clear.

Also, this shit wouldn’t happen if D.C. had two senators.

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1 Response to The Politics Of Abortion In The Mainland Colony

  1. Bern says:

    So what do we do about it? I’m kinda new to DC but for years I’ve wondered how to get statehood done. It is way past time and I am ready to dig deep into this.

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