WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Leaders are making a promise to keep abortions safe and accessible not just to District residents. They’re pushing to make reproductive care available to all. They also are pushing to protect people who travel into D.C. from other states to seek care.
While abortions remain legal in the District, local leaders sounded off hours after the historic announcement overturning Roe v. Wade.
“These are Taliban judges in terms of how they treat women and women’s bodies,”Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh
In a news conference at Planned Parenthood of Metro Washington, D.C., leaders including Mayor Muriel Bowser, council members, representatives from Planned Parenthood, and U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, expressed their anger, concern, and support for people seeking abortions. “How dare they say me, my daughters, our daughters, our granddaughters are not full citizens with the rights and protections of men in this country,” Dr. Laura Meyers, President and Chief Executive Officer of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington D.C., explained.She also went on to highlight that Planned Parenthood has and will remain open to providing care to those who need it.
Ward 1 Councilwoman Brianne Nadeau introduced a bill that would protect people coming into the District seeking abortions, saying the council has felt a sense of urgency since the ruling was first leaked. The bill also would prevent the District and health care providers from cooperating with out-of-state investigations that would target those people.
“We have a hearing scheduled next month. The earliest it could go into effect is September,” Nadeau explained. “However, people may still travel to the District of Columbia for abortions, even before this bill is enacted. We simply want to make sure that we put every protection in place for them when they do come.”
While all 13 council members support this bill, Congress has the final say over legislation introduced here in the District. Bowser expressed her concern and displeasure with the lack of autonomy experienced by the District.
“Congress can impose its will and overturn the will of the people of the District of Columbia,” Bowser explained. “So this is very much an issue, of course, about our autonomy as taxpaying Americans, we already live with the indignity of a congressional rider.”
Leaders aren’t happy about that rider. Holmes Norton even called on Congress to codify the right to an abortion under federal law immediately.
“That is the very least the District needs to save the city from what will surely be an attempt by Republicans in the Congress to move first on the District of Columbia to make sure that abortions are not available for women in our city,” Holmes Norton said.
The bill still needs to be discussed with the Council and receive feedback from D.C. residents. It could go into effect as early as September, but Congress still would have the final say on whether it will be enacted.