By Elaine Magliaro
Aaron C. Davis of The Washington Post reported last Thursday that the House of Representatives had “voted along party lines late Thursday to strike down a D.C. law on ideological grounds for the first time in almost 35 years.” The Republican opponents of the D.C. law, “which bans discrimination over employees’ reproductive decisions,” claimed that it “constituted a liberal attack on antiabortion groups in the nation’s capital.”
Davis said that the effort to strike down the law was initiated “by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) in the days before he launched his presidential campaign.” Davis said it “sparked a fierce debate on the floor of the House late Thursday, with Democrats blasting the Republican move as an outrageous infringement on women’s reproductive rights and privacy.”
But why should our Republican lawmakers in Washington care about something as unimportant as infringing on women’s privacy and their right to reproductive freedom? After all, women lack a Y- chromosome and, therefore, can’t always think clearly. They should not be allowed to make certain kinds of decisions for themselves.
Cristina Marcos of The Hill said the D.C. law, “which is known as the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act, prohibits employers from discriminating against workers, their spouses or dependents for obtaining contraception or family planning services. The law further bans employees from retaliation for having abortions.”
Marcos said that D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who is a “nonvoting representative in Congress, condemned her colleagues for forcing a debate on a law that doesn’t affect their constituents.” Holmes said, “This resolution is wildly undemocratic. It is a naked violation of the nation’s founding principle of local control of local affairs and is profoundly offensive to D.C. residents. This resolution uniquely targets my district, but every member will get to vote on it except for me, the District’s elected representative.”
The final vote was 228 to 192. Thirteen Republicans sided with the Democrats and three Democrats backed the Republican measure.
Citing the strong convictions of many House Republicans about the D.C. measure, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) brought the issue to a vote on the floor even though Senate action on a companion measure would not come in time to stop the D.C. bill from becoming law next week.
Boehner said, “The issue is one of religious liberty.”
Davis said, “Bringing the abortion-related resolution to a vote on the floor of the House highlights the social issues that have long invigorated the Republican base but increasingly repel moderate voters.”
During a news conference last Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that the bill was “an outrageous intrusion into workers’ personal lives” and “totally inconsistent with the anti-government rhetoric that we hear around here morning, noon and night.” She added, “If you don’t believe in governance, how is it that all of that is cast aside when it comes to women’s reproductive freedom?”
Good question, Rep. Pelosi. I wonder if any of the sexist Neanderthals who voted for the Republican measure considered that.
Davis noted in his article that the District has more residents than either the states of Vermont or Wyoming but has no voting representation in Congress.” He said all of the District’s “locally passed laws and spending decisions must go before Congress for review.” He said that the “last time Congress voted to overturn a D.C. law was in 1991, when both chambers passed, and the president signed, a measure to keep D.C. officials from changing the maximum height of buildings in the city.” He added, “The last vote by Congress on a social policy set by the city was in 1981, when federal lawmakers turned back the city’s effort to erase its felony sodomy law.”
Repeal of the DC law has to pass a Senate vote, which President Obama would have to sign by early next week. Davis wrote, “With no chance of that happening, Republicans have urged House budget leaders to block funding for the District to enforce the reproductive discrimination law through the next federal spending bill.”
House votes to strike down D.C. reproductive rights law (The Washington Post)