DeGette fights GOP ‘big government’ anti-abortion gambit
||The Colorado Independent
||Tuesday, September 13, 2011
In a new chapter of the often topsy-turvy story of the Tea Party era, Colorado Democratic US Rep Diana DeGette this week finds herself championing local government rights against Republican efforts to expand federal power. DeGette on Wednesday urged House and Senate appropriations committees staffers to reject legislative stipulations that aim to prohibit the District of Columbia government from using local tax dollars to pay for abortions as part of its employee insurance policies.
“Not only would this proposed language undermine the self-governing rights of the people of the District of Columbia, it would deny low-income women access to basic, constitutionally protected, medical services,” DeGette, co-chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus, said in a release. “Congress should not violate the District’s right to use its own tax dollars as it sees fit in order to simply advance congressional Republicans’ extreme assault on women’s access to quality reproductive healthcare.”
The political right has long championed local government over federal government as best to represent constituent interests. The Tea Party has leaned on states rights arguments, for example, in its aggressive opposition to the federal health care reform law passed two years ago.
The debate over the abortion restriction references the long struggle to grant the District of Columbia statehood. DC residents have no true representatives in Congress yet Republicans have long opposed statehood for the fact that the District’s largely liberal population would add Democratic votes on Capitol Hill.
The language opposed by DeGette appears in the Fiscal Year 2012 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill and is one of several attempts on the part of Republican lawmakers this year to limit access to abortion.
“This intrusive initiative sadly sends a clear signal that this Congress does not believe vulnerable women are worthy of the same access to quality health as their middle-class and wealthy counterparts.”
One of the clear effects of the law would be to price out abortions for any government employee unable to foot the bill out of pocket.
DeGette made her case to the committees staffers in a letter signed by 59 members of the House, including Colorado Rep Jared Polis, and co-authored with New York Rep Louise Slaughter.
“Washington D.C. is not Congress’ petri dish,” Slaughter said. “We should not be using federal power to experiment with the rights of women, which is why I encourage every member of the Appropriations Committees to reject any effort to limit the District’s control of local funds. “Congress should not be in the business of punishing low-income women and stripping them of their constitutionally-afforded rights. I believe we’d all do well to remember that.”
On Wednesday the Senate is scheduled to mark-up or consider again the various provisions of the appropriations bill.
The DeGette-Slaughter letter: ...