Just three months after the GOP’s infamous all-male hearing on President Obama’s birth control mandate, Republicans denied Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton the opportunity to speak at Thursday’s hearing on a new bill that would restrict abortions in her district of Washington, D.C.
Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican, introduced the “District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which would ban abortions after 20 weeks in Washington, D.C. He then prohibited Norton, a non-voting delegate and the district’s only congressional representative, from voicing the views of her constituents.
Norton told PoliticsNation’s Al Sharpton she felt nearly insulted, and that Rep. Franks “bullied us in every way he could” to push his anti-abortion agenda.
“Republicans may claim their war on women is as real as a war on caterpillars, but their actions speak louder than their words," Sharpton said.
Rep. Franks justified the move citing a committee “rule” that allows only one witness to speak at such hearings. However, since it’s unusual to have bills aimed at only one district, exceptions to the rule are often made as a courtesy. Opponents of the bill chose a compelling witness, a woman who needed an abortion at 22 weeks, but several Democratic members of Congress were outraged that Norton wasn’t allowed to speak as well.
Democratic Rep. Jarrold Nadler offered Norton this apology:
“I want to apologize for the rudeness my Republican colleagues are showing. Not allowing her to be heard is yet another example of this abuse of power. Just because we have the power to impose our will on people who have no voice, does not make it right or moral. Never in my 20 years as a member of this body have I seen a colleague treated so contemptuously. The fact that the minority has been limited to one witness only, has demonstrated just what a farce these hearings are.”