Center Praises House for Lifting Ban on Funding for D.C. Abortion Services, Calls on Senate to Do the Same

The House of Representatives voted late today to discontinue the ban on funding for abortion services specifically targeted at women in Washington, D.C.Currently, the District of Columbia is prohibited from using local tax money to pay for abortion services for low-income women except in extremely limited circumstances – when a woman’s life is endangered, or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

"Tonight, we cleared yet another hurdle in our efforts to lift the ban on funding for abortion services in D.C. We commend the champions in the House who made this victory possible, including D.C. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton and New York Representative Jose Serrano, and call on the Senate to follow suit," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. "Congress doesn’t dictate how the fifty states use their own public dollars and shouldn’t deny the District that power either. It’s time to repeal this discriminatory policy and ensure poor women in the capital have access to the full range of reproductive health services."

The funding ban has been included in the Financial Services Appropriations bill almost every year since 1988. But this year, President Obama did not include it in his proposed 2010 budget.  D.C. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton has also called for her colleagues to lift the ban. Until 1988, D.C. used its own funds to pay for abortions for low-income women.  However, unlike the states, the capital city is subject to the jurisdiction of Congress, which has, from 1988 until 1993, and again since 1995, prohibited the District from deciding for itself whether to fund abortions other than in the cases of risk to life or in cases of rape or incest.  Nearly a third of D.C.’s population relies on government funding as their only means of medical care.