Showdown in Washington, DC: Eleanor Holmes Norton is Champ, Trent Franks is Chump
Because the anti-women’s health laws in Arizona aren’t enough, Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) wants to push his ideological agenda on the people of Washington, DC. The fact that he doesn’t actually represent the people of DC is of no consequence to this congressman. Franks is sponsoring a bill that would ban abortions in DC after 20 weeks, before women might receive important information about their health and their pregnancy.
Normally, advocating for legislation that would take decisions out of the hands of women and their doctors and put it in the hand of politicians would be enough to earn the Chump Crown. However, what put Franks over the top this week was denying DC’s only elected delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, the right to testify on behalf of her constituents. Seriously!
Apparently some House Republicans haven’t learned their lesson. When Congressman Darrell Issa barred the only woman from an otherwise all-male panel addressing the birth control benefit in February, it caused an uproar. So Franks, in what may have been an effort to avoid a similar situation, offered what he must have thought was a reasonable compromise: Norton could sit on the dais of the hearing but wouldn’t be allowed to speak. What he failed to realize is that women didn’t sit back silently during the Blunt amendment hearings and they certainly weren’t going to do it now. That’s why this week’s champ is Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.
When Norton was denied the right to speak at the 20-week ban hearing, she declined to sit on the sidelines. In fact, she called Franks’ offer one which “’no self-respecting member’ would accept.” Instead, she held a news conference on Thursday afternoon before the hearing to discuss the extreme measure that “goes well beyond anything we have experienced.”
If Norton had testified she would have said that this is "the first bill ever introduced in Congress that would deny constitutional rights to the citizens of only one jurisdiction in the United States and it is the first bill ever introduced in Congress that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.”
According to Norton, Franks could talk all he wants about women’s health, but this bill is simply a “stalking horse” for overturning Roe v. Wade. “What they want from the Congress is a federal imprimatur to continue their march in the states, to say, even the congress has voted for a bill to limit abortion to 20 weeks.”
While the Arizona Congressman may have wanted Delegate Norton to sit on the sidelines, he didn’t realize what a mistake he was making. Norton was not willing to sit quietly, and instead stood up and spoke out. This long-term congresswoman made it clear: restricting women’s rights in her home district was not OK. We couldn’t be prouder of Eleanor Holmes Norton; she truly has earned the coveted Champ of the Week title.