By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]

The District of Columbia City Council is working to protect the civil rights of its residents by defying President Donald J. Trump’s attack on reproductive rights. Council member David Grosso (I- At Large) has introduced legislation that would guarantee all D.C. residents the right to access all reproductive healthcare options, including abortion.

Grosso’s bill, Strengthening Reproductive Health Protections Amendment Act of 2019, was co-sponsored by Council members Anita Bonds (D-At Large), Elissa Silverman (I- At Large), Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Mary Cheh (D- Ward 3), Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4), and Charles Allen (D- Ward 6). It seeks to, among other things, prohibit the criminalization of self-managed abortion and will protect health care professionals against employment discrimination based on their participation in providing abortion care. 

Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) is working to protect the reproductive rights of D.C. residents through his bill {Strengthening Reproductive Health Protections Amendment Act of 2019}. (Courtesy Photo)

“It is imperative that as a city we do our part to protect the rights of our residents,” wrote Grosso in his introductory statement. “We need lasting protection for reproductive health access now, no matter what happens in Congress. This legislation ensures that everyone in D.C. has access to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion.”

According to Planned Parenthood, since 2018, 15 states have enacted 23 new abortion restrictions by ammending their reproductive rights laws in some form. Mississippi instituted a 15-week abortion ban last year. In May, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a six-week abortion ban into law, making the state the fourth in 2019 to enact a ban on abortion at a point in pregnancy before most patients would be aware of a pregnancy.  

Alabama also passed the Human Life Protection Act which is the most restrictive of all.  Any doctor who performs a banned abortion in the state would be guilty of a Class A felony, and could be sentenced to life in prison. Their arguments are that restrictive laws are meant to make access to abortion so difficult that it will not matter whether Roe v. Wade stands or not.

Last year’s confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh also has many abortion rights proponents feeling that Roe v. Wade could be amended as well since the high court is perceived to be leaning to the right on this issue.

“Across the country, reproductive health decisions—and specifically abortion rights are under attack,” said Grosso. “President Trump continues to nominate judges that will shift the ideological makeup of the courts, while state legislatures enact unconstitutional laws that restrict access to abortion.”

D.C.’s proposed legislation is designed to prohibit government from interfering with reproductive health decisions and from imposing arbitrary punishment on anyone choosing to abort a pregancy following a miscarriage, or “adverse pregnancy outcomes.” It would also prohibit employment discrimination against health care professionals if they assist or participate in abortion or sterilization procedures.

“While we are well aware that the District of Columbia is subject to the whims of Congress, we are fortunate right now to have a pro-reproductive health majority in the House of Representatives,” Grosso continued.