Franks, just to be clear, is a congressman from Arizona -- but that's not stopping him from playing morality cop in Washington D.C..
The bill, "The District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," would ban abortions in the nation's Capitol of fetuses that are 20 weeks or older.
Why 20 weeks, you ask? Well, according to Franks, that's when fetuses begin feeling pain.
The National Right to Life Committee last week penned a letter to members of Congress explaining Franks' bill.
"The Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade was issued during the 'Dark Ages' in terms of pre-natal medical science. In the ensuing decades, knowledge regarding the development of unborn humans, and their capacities at various stages of growth, has advanced in quantum leaps," the anti-abortion group explains in its letter. "For example, improvements in ultrasound and other imaging technologies have allowed doctors to see smaller and smaller details of the unborn child's anatomy. The first open-womb fetal surgery was performed in 1981, and such procedures are now routine at a number of facilities. During fetal surgery, physicians were able to observe unborn children reacting to painful stimuli, and this was one major factor that led to the current recommended practice of administering anaesthesia to the unborn child at around 20 weeks."
Be that as it may, the woman who actually
represents the District of Columbia in Congress, Delegate Eleanor
Holmes Norton, says Franks' bill interferes with the rights of D.C.'s
local jurisdiction -- ya know, his being a congressman from Arizona, and
all -- and if he wants to play morality cop, he should introduce legislation that applies to the entire country, not just D.C.
"We do not intend to succumb to the insatiable Republican obsession with interfering with the rights of women in our city," she says in a statement posted on her website. "... Instead of spending the recess focused on jump-starting the economy or attending to the business of his own constituents, Rep. Franks appears to have used his time at home figuring out new ways to undemocratically usurp the local authority of American citizens who did not elect him and who have no way to hold him accountable. ... If Rep. Franks believes his bill represents sound policy, he should introduce a bill that applies to the entire country."
Further reading: Check out Franks' plans to solve the non-existent problem of race/gender-based abortions here.
See the NRLC's letter -- and Holmes-Norton's response -- below.
NRLC's letter to Congress:
January 19, 2012
Dear Member of Congress:
The Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade was issued during the "Dark Ages" in terms of pre-natal medical science. In the ensuing decades, knowledge regarding the development of unborn humans, and their capacities at various stages of growth, has advanced in quantum leaps. For example, improvements in ultrasound and other imaging technologies have allowed doctors to see smaller and smaller details of the unborn child's anatomy. The first open-womb fetal surgery was performed in 1981, and such procedures are now routine at a number of facilities. During fetal surgery, physicians were able to observe unborn children reacting to painful stimuli, and this was one major factor that led to the current recommended practice of administering anaesthesia to the unborn child at around 20 weeks.
Some of the extensive evidence that unborn children have the capacity to experience pain, at least by 20 weeks and possibly earlier, is summarized here:
It is long past time for lawmakers to take note of these developments and the implications that they should have for abortion policy. Five states have already done so, during 2010 and 2011, by enacting the NRLC-backed Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. In these states, legislatures have adopted factual findings regarding the medical evidence that unborn children experience pain at least by 20 weeks after fertilization (about the start of the sixth month), and they therefore prohibit abortion after that point, with narrowly drawn exceptions. Those states are Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Alabama. There has been no serious legal challenge mounted to any of these laws. Additional state legislatures will be considering such legislation during the months ahead.
The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) has long been dismayed by the abortion policy that is currently in place in one jurisdiction that is under the direct constitutional authority of the Congress: the Federal District (District of Columbia). While it will come as a shock to many Americans, in the capital of our nation, abortion now is allowed for any reason at any point in pregnancy. Abortions are openly advertised and performed far past the point at which an unborn child becomes pain capable.
The nation's capital belongs to the American people as a whole, and with respect to vital matters of public policy, the U.S. Constitution makes it crystal clear that the buck stops with Congress. The "District Clause" of Article I, Section 8 is unequivocal, stating that Congress shall "exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District . . ."
Thus, Congressman Trent Franks yesterday circulated a "Dear Colleague" letter announcing that he will introduce, on January 23, The District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Essentially, this bill would prohibit, within the Federal District, the abortion of any "pain-capable" unborn child, defined as any unborn child who is 20 weeks or more past fertilization. The bill contains findings and exceptions similar to those enacted in the states named above.
The National Right to Life Committee strongly supports the D.C. Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and urges you to sign on as an original cosponsor of this legislation.
Enactment of the bans on abortion of pain-capable unborn children are currently a top priority for NRLC.
NRLC also encourages you to cosponsor, if you have not already done so, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA, H.R. 3541) and the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA, H.R. 2299). Summaries of these and other worthwhile bills endorsed by NRLC are available at the NRLC Legislative Action Center at http://www.capwiz.com/nrlc/home/
Thank you for your consideration of NRLC's position on these important legislative initiatives.
National Right to Life Committee (NRLC)
512 10th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004
Delegate Holmes-Norton's response:
Congressman Trent Franks to Introduce an Anti-Federalist Bill that Interferes with a Local Jurisdiction's Rights
WASHINGTON, DC - Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, on Monday is expected to introduce an anti-federalist bill that would ban all abortions in the District of Columbia after 20 weeks, with limited exceptions. Only one week into the second session of the 112th Congress, this House Republican has broadened Congressional attacks on women who live in the District and on home rule with the "District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act." The bill would prohibit such abortions in only one local jurisdiction, the District of Columbia. The bill comes one month after the fiscal year 2012 spending bill re-imposed, for the second fiscal year in a row, a prohibition on the District's use of its local funds for abortions for low-income women.
"We do not intend to succumb to the insatiable Republican obsession with interfering with the rights of women in our city," Norton said. "Most Americans respect the honest differences in the nation on abortion. Even those who disagree with the views of our residents understand that neither the Constitution nor Supreme Court interpretations allow disparate treatment of our residents. Congress gave the District the home-rule right to govern itself in 1973, and we will fight to maintain the very same rights as every American and every local government enjoys. Instead of spending the recess focused on jumpstarting the economy or attending to the business of his own constituents, Representative Franks appears to have used his time at home figuring out new ways to undemocratically usurp the local authority of American citizens who did not elect him and who have no way to hold him accountable. There can be no justification for denying the federal taxpaying residents of the nation's capital the same rights as other American citizens. If Representative Franks believes his bill represents sound policy, he should introduce a bill that applies to the entire country. We will not stand still as we are singled out for discriminatory treatment."
In the first session, Franks denied the Congresswoman the right to testify at his committee's hearing on H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which, among other things, would ban the District of Columbia from spending its local funds on abortion services for low-income women, and redefine this free-standing local jurisdiction as part of the federal government for the purpose of abortion, an unprecedented violation of the District's right to self-government. Norton has already begun working with her congressional allies and the coalition of 100 national and local organizations that helped her achieve a Senate Appropriations Committee-passed Fiscal Year 2012 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill free of all anti-home-rule riders to defeat the bill.