D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh and seven others were arrested Wednesday night on Capitol Hill.
Cheh was taken into custody following a rally to protest a bill that cuts funding for abortions to low-income women in the District. The bill had just finished being passed by members of the U.S. House.
“I am proud to join the people today and my colleagues on the Council who were arrested last month in standing up for Home Rule and against Congressional meddling in the District budget,” Cheh said in a release. “We must do everything we can at this critical juncture to oppose H.R. 3 and support the Budget Autonomy Act Delegate Norton has introduced.”
The bill, which passed the House by a vote of 251-175, marks the first time a rider was made permanent, according to D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton.
"H.R. 3, aimed at every woman in the District and in the United States, yet specifically singles out low-income D.C. women for special abuse by preventing them from exercising their constitutional right to an abortion, if the District decides that local funds are necessary," Norton said in a release. “Today’s arrests builds on the momentum that was created by DC Vote and the arrests of ‘D.C. 41’ last month. The arrest of D.C. women, on behalf of the city’s low-income women, signals that the revolution is spreading and is being sustained by D.C. residents. Residents realize that undemocratic abuse from the Congress cannot end without direct action by citizens."
While there were many pro-choice activists in the crowd, the focus of the protest was also D.C. autonomy. The protestors want D.C. to be allowed to make decisions with its own funds.
Norton said that the Obama Administration announcement on Tuesday of a veto threat of the bill should encourage residents, even when they are not arrested, “to show up so that the administration and our Senate allies understand that we are watching and depending on them to stand up for the self-government they have long professed.”
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray was arrested in a similar protest last month.
“I willingly go to jail today so that the people of the District can, like all other U.S. citizens, control their own lives,” Cheh said.