Flanked by Mayor Muriel Bowser, the D.C. Council and officials from Planned Parenthood, a defiant Congresswoman (D-D.C.) Eleanor Holmes Norton on Tuesday laid out the stakes for the District if Roe v. Wade is overturned, leaving individual states to choose whether abortion should be legal.
“You can bet your life that if this is the decision, I’m ready to fight,” Norton said. “Many states will be able to decide for themselves. Until the District gets statehood, we cannot make that decision for ourselves.”
After the Supreme Court draft opinion leak, several officials pointed out that, despite overwhelming support, reproductive rights in the city are in a particularly vulnerable position if Roe were overturned due to the federal government's oversight of local D.C. laws and budget.
We're making it easier for you to find stories that matter with our new newsletter — The 4Front. Sign up here and get news that is important for you to your inbox.
Bowser said efforts to protect the District's abortion rights will continue, but if Republicans win back Congress and the White House, the issue of access in D.C. could be decided on Capitol Hill and not the John Wilson Building.
“The government shouldn't be in the business of blocking access to health care,” Bowser said. “Washington, D.C. is a pro-choice city. Last night's news didn't change that.”
It’s for that very reason that Jessica Rodgers, vice president of D.C. Metro Life Alliance, said anti-abortion groups with a focus on D.C. are not claiming victory.
“Nothing really changes regardless of what the Supreme Court does. D.C. is still going to allow abortion on demand for any reason through all 9 months of pregnancy,” she said.
Rodgers says protecting the unborn in the nation’s capital will be a local effort. The group is currently opposing new legislation that enhances protections for an individual assisting another individual in self-managing their abortion through FDA-approved medication.
“We are still going to be on the ground seeking to create a life-affirming society for mothers and their unborn children,” Rodgers said.
The bill’s lead sponsor, Councilwoman Christina Henderson, worries that a Republican-controlled Congress could push for even tighter restrictions than those already in place in D.C.
Though Democrats have agreed in the past to prevent the District from spending local funds on abortion, she says now is the time to hold firm and preserve abortion access for women.
“We call on Congress not only to codify Roe, but also to give D.C. statehood so that we can protect our residents and their rights even more,” Henderson said.