City Desk

Who’s Testifying At Today’s Abortion Ban Hearing

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton released testimony in advance of this afternoon's hearing for a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks in D.C. It's the testimony she would have given had she been permitted to testify—which she wasn't. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was particularly irritated, NBC4 reports:

"We have a member of Congress who wants to come in and talk about her district, I can't even imagine a situation where someone else would be denied that opportunity and I think it's wrong," Pelosi said. "And I think it's not civil and if we don't raise the level of civility around here it just further alienates the public."

Pelosi continued:

"What are they afraid of? The facts? The impact on the District of Columbia? The persuasiveness of the Congresswoman to represent her people? ... They have prevented her from having a vote on the floor, now they don't want her to have a voice in a committee on a subject of concern to her district, I think it's wrong."

So who is testifying? Three doctors and one District resident named Christy Zink—an activist who needed a late-term abortion when physicians found her fetus had abnormalities.

The first doctor is Anthony Levatino, a self-professed "former abortionist" who apparently found the procedure too gruesome and personally stressful, and stopped providing them to women in 1985.

The second doctor is Colleen Malloy, a physician and professor at Northwestern who once wrote a letter to the Chicago Sun-Times arguing that abortion to save the life of the mother "is almost never necessary." Rather, she says the body will miscarry eventually or the woman should carry the fetus to term.

The third is Bryan Calhoun, a member of a conservative physicians' organization who published a report claiming a link between premature births and abortions in the black community. (The report came out in a journal that had also published now-debunked studies that abortions lead to breast cancer.)

One thing all of these doctors have in common? None of them practice medicine in D.C.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • Chuck

    Pelosi is a nitwit. Norton is not a member of Congress. She has no vote.

    However, she should be allowed to testify, if nothing else, to counteract the idiocy of the Republicans on the panel trying to only allow one side of the debate to be heard.

  • Tracey

    Why is Pelosi a nitwit? She said the same exact thing that you did about her being allowed to testify.

    Also, she is a Congress member but she is considered a non-voting delegate. This is exactly the sort of place where it would make sense for her to speak. She is supposed to be a non-voting rep of DC. How crazy is this?

  • The Java Master

    Norton has no currency in the House of Representatives. She is not a member of Congress, but occupies a peculiar position of "representing" the District nonetheless. It is to no avail. DC will likely never become a "state" with congressional representation. It is unlikely that any such constitutional amendment could ever pass. Those are the political facts of life. Bonus question: how many DC residents could name the "shadow senator" off the top their heads?

  • DC Resident

    This article implies that only doctors who practice medicine and live within the borders of Washington DC are qualified to comment on necessity and effects of post 20 week abortions. How ridiculous is that?

    It's not surprising that Norton was excluded from speaking. My impression is that it's completely personal. She is loud, rude, and obnoxious and is treated as such. Why would anyone on that panel subject themselves to her verbal abuse and bomb throwing if there was a way to avoid it? She generally hurts her own cause by insulting and threatening those who may not agree with her.

  • a change gon’ come

    Very proud of Christy Zink for taking the mic in such a hostile atmosphere to represent women who actually have to make such difficult decisions about their own bodies and health. It is not an abstract political football when your own actual body is involved.

    The fact that the doctors who testified don't live or work in DC is a mini-factoid; the big takeaway is that they're idiots. There's nothing medically significant or meaningful about one doctor's stress, another's correlation/causation error, and a third's cavalier assertion that a woman (other than herself) should just carry a fetus until her body expels it.

    And I'm not aware of Ms. Norton's "personal offensiveness." Even if the assertion is accurate, it seems no barrier to Congressional officeholding. See: Trent Franks.

  • Typical DC BS

    @Tracey: Pelosi is a nitwit because she calls Norton "a member of Congress who wants to come in and talk about her district." Since when is Norton a member of Congress? She is not recognized as a member or have any vote or say about ANYTHING in Congress. And Pelosi knows this. That's why she's a nitwit.

    Is this right that D.C. has no say in managing it's own affairs, especially about abortions performed within the District of Columbia proper? Of course not. But when push comes to shove, this is reality. And it sucks.

    Pelosi is just another backbencher who is shooting off her mouth to be heard. The least she can do is stick to the facts.