After criticizing Rep. Justin Amash for opposing the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, it’s only fair that I give the Michigan Republican credit for what he’s doing right. On Wednesday, ThinkProgress’s Annie-Rose Strasser warned her left-wing audience that Amash has introduced a bill requiring minors in the District of Columbia to get parental consent before abortions and protecting the conscience rights of D.C. health care workers who refuse to participate in abortions.
On Tuesday evening, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) decried Amash’s plans and ongoing efforts by the GOP to restrict abortions solely in the District.
“Rep. Amash is spending time in the House meddling in my district, instead of attending to the needs of his own constituents,” she wrote in a statement. “His bill would overturn our local laws with no accountability to our residents.”
Del. Norton apparently didn’t get the memo that that’s how D.C. works. Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution gives Congress the authority to “exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever” over “the seat of the government of the United States.” In fact, Ms. Norton’s title, “Delegate,” should be a clue – Congress has delegated that power to a local body, but Congress still ultimately calls the shots.
On its surface, this objection rings hollow, since Democrats tend not to be big sticklers for local autonomy over federal intervention. Dig a little, though, and it becomes outright hypocritical, considering that in 1993 Norton co-sponsored a version of the Freedom of Choice Act that, while perhaps not as draconian as the one Barack Obama likes, would have forbidden states from prohibiting most abortions.
Norton opposes the bill because she doesn’t believe in parental consent for abortion. If that’s her position, we can have that debate, but can we spare the pretense that there’s a principled stand for local control at stake here?
Not to be outdone, Strasser throws in her own warning about the measure:
Amash’s bill could have a particularly debilitating effect on women who have been raped or are victims of incest, while more expansive conscience clauses significantly limit access to abortion procedures.
When did it become a given that parental consent helps people perpetrate incest? How does that work, exactly? And how does whatever benefit rapists allegedly get out of parental consent laws outweigh the benefit rapists and abusive partners get out of abortion itself, by enabling them to pressure women into destroying the evidence of their relationship and/or the offspring they don’t want to be responsible for?
Despite the wailing of the usual suspects, Justin Amash’s bill is a moral, necessary, commonsense measure. Whatever other disagreements we have, it’s good to know he’s aiding the pro-life cause in other ways.