As a D.C. taxpayer with a uterus, I’m used to being ignored.
Friday’s budget (or)deal was especially repulsive though, as once again, those of us in the District were robbed of rights held dear by those in every other jurisdiction. (Mayor Vincent Gray and several D.C. Council members were arrested Monday while protesting this longtime policy of Congress treating Washingtonians as second-class citizens.)
Stephanie Drahan of the National Women’s Law Center summed it up:
The final agreement, which contains $38.5 billion in cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year, does not include either the Title X or Planned Parenthood rider. It also does not include the Global Gag Rule, which if passed, would have prevented foreign organizations receiving family planning federal monies from providing information, referrals or services on abortion options.
And while this is a victory that should be savored and for which women’s health activists and their pro-choice allies in Congress and the White House should be praised, the deal is certainly not without fault. Most notably, the DC abortion rider was included. This rider prevents the District of Columbia from using its locally-raised revenue to provide low-income women with funding support for the abortion services they need. While not all states take advantage of their ability to use their state monies in this way, each state is allowed to decide how to use its locally-raised revenue, while DC is not.
So yeah. How’s that itty bitty, small government thing workin’ out for ya?
This rider fiasco just reiterated the absurdity of the situation in our nation’s capital. Our lives, reproductive options, and even our trash pickup are essentially subject to the whims of the tea party. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton can only do (say?) so much, and it has been tragically easy for the president to ignore his neighbors.
This ban, arranged by folks from Anywhere-But-D.C., will affect 60,000 Washington women of reproductive age enrolled in Medicaid. These are women for whom the cost of a first-trimester abortion often is prohibitive. (Fact: Having and raising a child is more cost prohibitive.)
Until D.C. residents are acknowledged as real, live Americans will full voting rights, autonomy, and the ability to determine how our tax dollars are spent, the best we can do is kick, scream, (hell, get arrested if that’s working for you) and keep supporting organizations like the DC Abortion Fund.
I’ll be participating in the National Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon this weekend to raise money for DCAF. My friends and some other awesome local folks are fundraising to help our neighbors who have been kicked aside by the Republican House, President Obama’s “negotiating,” and the repulsive mindset that it’s OK for a person’s rights to depend on the size of his or her wallet.
DCAF fills an especially large void now, in the Age of Boehner, when us ladies are facing an uphill battle to maintain the health care access we do have. Now that it’s crystal clear that the women, men, and children of the District of Columbia are nothing more than an easily surrendered bargaining chip in any legislative “negotiation,” we need to ensure we have some sort of safety net in place. Because everyone knows just because you restrict access to something people need or want, you won’t make it go away.