Carrying signs depicting U.S. Representative Trent Franks of Arizona's Second Congressional District as a hot dog with the slogan, "Congressman Franks, Don't Be a Wiener," around 25 protesters rallied on the sidewalk before Franks' Glendale office this morning to oppose an anti-abortion measure proposed by the West Valley Republican.
Franks' legislation, H.R. 3803, would ban all abortions from the 20th week of pregnancy in the District of Columbia. A doctor performing such an abortion could be imprisoned for up to two years, if convicted under the proposed law.
The U.S. Congress holds complete legislative authority over the District, you see. That's why the protest was lead by James Jones, a member of the District-based group DC Vote, which advocates for voting representation in Congress for the District.
"We're here to let Representative Franks know that his business is improving the economy and helping people get jobs in Arizona," Jones said during the rally. "It's not legislating to affect the lives and the personal decisions of the women of the District of Columbia."
DC Vote also has been hitting Franks' office with phone calls and placing ads in various publications, including a free Sand Land weekly with which you might be familiar.
Jones was joined by local members of other organizations such as Planned Parenthood of Arizona, the National Organization for Women and NARAL Pro-Choice America (formerly, the National Abortion Rights Action League), all of whom were hoppin' mad about Franks' authoritarian attack on the women of D.C.
"He's an idiot," lawyer Dianne Post told me of Franks. "Has he ever had a need to have [an abortion]? It's none of his business."
She added, concerning the arguments of the pro-life crowd: "If abortion is murder, then masturbation [for a man] is genocide."
Kat Sabine of NARAL noted that abortions after 20 weeks are rare. One reason for an abortion after 20 weeks: if the fetus is diagnosed with some severe ailment or anomaly.
"Those are the most heart-wrenching procedures," Sabine said. "And it's pretty disgusting to force women to carry those to term."
Under Franks' proposed law, the only exception would be if the pregnancy threatened the life or the long-term health of the mother.
Such a law would likely be unconstitutional under the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which recognized a woman's right to choose and restricted the government's ability to ban or otherwise legislate abortion prior to the viability of the fetus.
Perhaps H.R. 3803, like similar legislation currently being proposed by Republican State House Representative Kimberly Yee, is intended to draw a legal challenge, in hopes of putting the issue of abortion once more before the high court. In the short term, though, it would cause many women and doctors grief.
"Our legislature is not the medical community," Planned Parenthood's Bridget Sharpe explained. "And the the medical community spoke out against [the proposed state legislation]. There were over 1500 e-mails sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee against the bill, and many of those were doctors."
Yee's bill had been stopped in another committee, but then was reborn through that piece of legislative trickery known as a "strike-all" amendment. Sharpe said her organization is now committed to defeating Yee's one-woman anti-abortion juggernaut.
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Following the rally, Jones led the high-spirited group up to Franks' second-story office, where he presented Franks' district chief of staff Dan Hay with letters urging Franks to "leave DC alone" and to focus on helping Arizona's economy instead.
Fat chance of that. Franks is a committed foe of abortion. Nearly every time I've seen him speak, he mentions "the unborn" in one way or another.
Still, it seems unlikely that his bill will get very far. And even if it does, I'd bet it would be stymied in the U.S. Senate, or, if necessary, vetoed by President Barack Obama.
Local GOP efforts to undermine Roe v. Wade? Those are more troubling.