DC Mayor Vincent Gray Arrested Protesting Abortion Funding Ban

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 12, 2011   |   11:16AM   |   Washington, DC

Vincent Gray, the mayor of Washington, DC, was arrested along with three dozen pro-abortion activists on Monday for protesting the budget deal in Congress that will result in banning taxpayer funded abortions in the District of Columbia.

Gray’s opposition is part of the position he took campaigning for the position saying he would vociferously protest anything that stood in the way of D.C. autonomy. As a result, he and 41 pro-abortion activists were arrested for blocking traffic outside the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

“I am tired of being a pawn in a political game,” Gray said, egging on the crowd of more than 100 people. “This is an absolute travesty.”

D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown and several other council members joined Gray and they held signs and shouted outside the congressional offices. “We deserve to be free,” Brown screamed. “Stay out of our pocket. … Stay out of our business.”

Other members like Tommy Wells said, “We are not a bargaining chip. We have rights that aren’t for sale, that can’t be sold down the river,” and accused pro-abortion Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of selling out.

Some of the protestors told media outlets police indicated their bail would be set at $50, but some of them plan to pay $51 as a symbolic gesture supporting making the District of Columbia the 51st state, which Republicans oppose because it would guarantee Democrats two more votes in the Senate that would remain virtually unchanged.

Washington, D.C. has its own city government, but its budget and laws are subject to Congressional review and that has been the case since the city was founded.

Tiffany Reed, the president of D.C. Abortion Fund,  a group that provides women with money for abortions, told AP she is upset with Obama for allowing the abortion funding ban to be put back into place.

“It gives me a lot of rage quite frankly,” she said. “I’m really disappointed in our pro-choice president that he allowed this to happen.”

The DC abortion funding ban would restore the Dornanamendment to ensure that no congressionally appropriated funds (whether locally or federally generated) may pay for abortion in the District of Columbia.  The good news for pro-life advocates is that the inclusion of the Dornan Amendment in the one-week continuing resolution ensures it remains in place to prohibit abortion funding in the nation’s capital for the rest of the year.

When House Republicans put forward HR 1, the continuing resolution bill to fund the federal government for FY2011, they put language in the legislation to restore the ban on taxpayer funding of abortions in the District of Columbia that Obama and House Democrats overturned when they controlled the chamber. Since the defeat of HR 1, pro-life organizations have clamored for a restoration of the D.C. abortion funding ban and, now, it has returned.

The policy was in place from 1996-2009. Then, Democrats initially approved an omnibus spending bill lifting the 13-year-long ban on directly paying for abortions in the nation’s capital and Obama eventually signed the measure.

National Right to Life Committee legislative director Douglas Johnson wrote to members of Congress at that time urging them to oppose the bill because of the abortion funding in the District of Columbia and said the number of abortions in the nation’s capital would increase by 1,000 annually because of the taxpayer funding.

“The National Right to Life Committee urges you to vote against passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (H.R. 3288), because the bill would lift a longstanding prohibition on the use of funds appropriated by Congress to pay for elective abortions in the District of Columbia,” the group said in a letter LifeNews.com obtained.

“Prior to the initial adoption of the congressional ban, public funds were used to pay for over 4,000 abortions annually in the nation’s capital,” Johnson noted back then. “If the pro-life policy is lifted by enactment of H.R. 3288, public funding of elective abortion will resume, and the predictable result will be that the number of abortions performed will increase, probably by around 1,000 per year.”

Democrats have historically agreed to the language stopping taxpayer funding of abortions, also known as the DC Hyde Amendment.

The Dornan Amendment has even been included in numerous Appropriations bills supported by members on both sides of the abortion debate.  Notably, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, who backs abortion, included the DC Abortion Funding ban in his own legislative text twice since Democrats gained control of the Senate in 2007.  President Clinton signed this policy into law six times and President Obama signed the policy into law for FY09 and voted to continue the policy twice while serving in the U.S. Senate.