WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 26: U.S. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) smiles answers questions from reporters after a news conference on Capitol Hill February 26, 2009 in Washington, DC. The U.S. Senate earlier passed the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
A House Judiciary Committee hearing is scheduled next week on a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks in D.C.
The bill would make it illegal for doctors to perform abortions after 20 weeks, with violators being hit with fines or prison sentences.
D.C. activists, according to Roll Call, have rallied against the legislation for what they see as a violation of local autonomy. But at the same time they have been calling on allies on the abortion rights community to join the fight.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) had this to say, via Roll Call:
“We do not intend to succumb to the insatiable Republican obsession with interfering with the rights of women in our city,” she said at the time of the introduction of Rep. Trent Franks’ (R-Ariz.) measure.
But Franks, who is chair of the Judicial Subcommittee on the Constitution, told Roll Call that this bill is a top priority in the pro-life community.
* Virginia pro-choice activists have started a campaign to undo “extreme targeted regulations on abortion providers” before a required vote by the state’s Board of Health to make the regulations permanent, according to The Washington Times.
The temporary rules that were implemented in December call for existing abortion providers that perform five or more first-trimester abortions per month to meet the same standards as surgery centers built after 2010. This includes specific architectural standards, staffing levels and medical supplies, according to The Times.
The board is expected to adopt permanent regulations before these expire at the end of the year.
“I am writing to you as an individual, a citizen, a woman and a mother,” Molly Taylor Vick of Richmond wrote to the 15 members of the Board of Health on Thursday. “I had not participated in this type of activism prior to the demonstrations at the Capitol this past General Assembly session. There are thousands of people just like me. […] We seek to educate the board members, independent citizens like ourselves, to make the informed decision and vote against these partisan, targeted regulations which have no scientific basis or relationship to the health and safety you were appointed to protect.”
* State legislators from both parties are trying to defeat Gov. Bob McDonnell’s proposed amendment to cut funding for nonprofit agencies that provide community-based services to senior citizens.
According to The Roanoke Times, McDonnell proposed an amendment to the newly passed state budget that would slash funding that lawmakers approved last month for certain Area Agencies on Aging -- an agency that administers in-home and community-based services for seniors.
Some directors of these agencies around the state said McDonnell’s proposal would force them to reduce services such as Meals on Wheels, adult day care and transportation for non-emergency medical services.
"It may mean that people end up going to hospitals and nursing homes because they can't get services to stay at home," said Susan Williams, the Roanoke-based executive director of the LOA Area Agency on Aging, which serves most of the Roanoke Valley, as well as Craig County, Alleghany County and Covington. "Our goal is to help people stay at home for as long as possible, where they can stay safely," Williams said. "And we have volunteers who deliver meals who make every dime count every way we can."
* D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray proposed Thursday to restore funding for emergency care benefits for illegal immigrants living in the District.
The move comes just days before the D.C. Council votes on his proposed budget for the first time.
Under pressure to plug a $172 million budget hole, The Washington Examiner reports that Gray originally proposed dramatic funding cuts for members of the D.C. Healthcare Alliance, the city-run insurance program that largely caters to illegal immigrants.
The plan immediately drew criticism from at-large Councilman David Catania, who chairs the council’s health program.
With Gray’s new plan, according to The Washington Examiner, the federal government would pay 70 percent of the costs of emergency funding for Alliance members under a federal provision that permits the use of Medicaid funds for emergency care for people who would otherwise be eligible for Medicaid if it wasn’t for their citizenship status.
The new proposal would move non-emergency care outside the managed care plan and cap the costs at what it ultimately pays in the 2012 fiscal year, forcing hospitals to share in the responsibility for funding non-emergency care with no impact on patient access if costs exceed beyond the funding limit.
* The guest list at Virginia universities in recent weeks has read like a who’s who in American politics.
The president had the first lady by his side as he launched his re-election campaign at Virginia Commonwealth University last Saturday. The first lady will deliver a commencement address Friday at Virginia Tech University and Mitt Romney is Saturday’s commencement speaker at Liberty University in Lynchburg.
According to The Richmond Times-Dispatch, Northern Virginia Community College -- which has a focus on worker training -- has been a favorite for presidents since Jimmy Carter's visit to the school's Loudoun County campus in 1980. Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush also made visits to NVCC. Obama has made five visits as president.
The RTD reports that sometimes the presidents or candidates incur the costs of the visits, while other visits cost the universities large chunks of money.
“Virginia Tech expects to pay some of the expenses resulting from Michelle Obama's commencement appearance. Spokesman Mark Owczarski said the university would pick up costs for additional staging that will be needed to accommodate the news media and to buy satellite time for broadcast media.”