Republicans in Congress this week have made a step forward in overturning Washington, D.C. legislation regarding abortion and physician-assisted suicide.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted 238-183 in favor of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, which officially prohibits the use of all federal taxpayer dollars to fund abortion services nationwide. The act also prohibits local D.C. tax dollars from funding abortion services, except in the case of sexual assault, incest or endangerment to the life of the mother.
11 representatives abstained from voting. Those who voted in favor of the bill included three Democrats. No Republicans voted against the legislation.
Encouraged by President Donald Trump’s anti-abortion stance, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) reintroduced the bill Jan. 1, having introduced it in both 2013 and 2015. Smith said the bill is part of an ongoing effort to reverse the legalization of abortion across the nation.
“Someday, future generations of Americans will look back and wonder how and why such a seemingly smart and enlightened society could have permitted over 60 million children to be exterminated by abortion, often with government enabling and subsidy,” Smith said when introducing the legislation on the Senate floor.
After D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) signed the District’s Death with Dignity Act on Dec. 19 and submitted it for Congressional review on Jan. 6, Republicans in Congress began efforts to dismantle it.
The act allows doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients with less than six months to live, under the condition that patients make two verbal requests for the treatment, separated by at least 15 days, to a physician and submit a written request at least 48 hours before the medication is dispensed. There must also be at least two witnesses to the written request who can attest that the patient is acting voluntarily and not being pressured to sign the form.
On Jan. 12, Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Texas) introduced a resolution of disapproval to overturn the act. Wenstrum said he proposed the resolution as a protective measure for the sanctity and dignity of human life, as well as a method of ensuring federal tax dollars will not fund physician-assisted suicide.
“America must be a nation that supports and cherishes human life, no matter the age, ethnicity or health of that life,” Lankford wrote in a press release. “Washington, D.C.’s assisted suicide bill would erode our culture’s respect for life, and possibly lead to the mistreatment and exploitation of the disabled and most vulnerable among us.”
Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) proposed similar legislation in the Senate.
Though congressional leaders rarely block District legislation, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) also said he would use his authority as the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to prevent the Death with Dignity Act from reaching the floor of the House for debate.
D.C.’s nonvoting Congressional delegate Representative Eleanor Norton Holmes (D-D.C.) condemned the actions of congressional Republicans on Thursday, stating that they were violating the Home Rule Act of 1973, which grants District officials the liberty to govern over local affairs.
“It is truly remarkable that instead of using the Committee’s time to conduct appropriate oversight on federal matters, including the new administration, Republicans have chosen to abuse the Committee’s authority over the District of Columbia and meddle with our city’s purely local affairs,” Norton wrote in a press release.
Georgetown University Right to Life President Amelia Irvine (COL ’19) said Right to Life stands with congressional leaders in their efforts to block abortion subsidies and physician-assisted suicide, citing a Marist College poll that found 61 percent of Americans oppose tax dollars being used to pay for abortions.
“We also applaud efforts by members of Congress to reverse the controversial D.C. legislation that legalized assisted suicide last year,” Irvine wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We believe that Congress is acting within its rights to defend life however it can in the District of Columbia.”
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