You are hereHuffington Post: Darrell Issa Includes Anti-Abortion Caveat In D.C. Autonomy Bill

Huffington Post: Darrell Issa Includes Anti-Abortion Caveat In D.C. Autonomy Bill

-By Laura Bassett

November 16, 2011- House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has drafted a proposal that would give Washington, D.C. greater autonomy over how it spends its money -- unless it wants to use that money to pay for low-income women's abortions.

The bill's abortion prohibition would codify the D.C. abortion-spending ban that President Obama conceded to Republicans during budget negotiations in the spring. All 50 U.S. states are legally allowed to use their own funds for abortion care.

“John, I will give you D.C. abortion, but I am not happy about it," Obama infamously told House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) at the time, referring to language in the budget bill that would prevent D.C. from using its own locally raised funds to help women pay for abortions.

Now, low-income women in D.C. can no longer use Medicaid to pay for abortion care, except in cases of rape, incest, or when their lives are in danger. A non-profit organization called the D.C. Abortion Fund, which provides grants to women in the D.C. metro area who cannot afford the full cost of an abortion, says it has received double the amount of requests for help since the ban took effect in April.

"That's over 2,000 people-- women and girls-- calling our helpline," said Val Vilott, president of DCAF. "Those who previously would have been able to go to a clinic and use Medicaid are now faced with raising the full cost on their own, or in collaboration with community organizations like us."

Issa's proposed bill would allow D.C. the freedom to spend its money as soon as it is budgeted like states can, instead of having to wait for Congress to grant permission. This would stop Congress from being able to use the District as a bargaining chip in budget negotiations and potentially prevent future government shutdowns over the issue.

But city officials, including Mayor Vincent Gray, have yet to take a position on the bill, ostensibly because of its controversial abortion caveat.

"Mayor Gray is aware that the pro-life movement placed a lot of pressure on Congressman Issa to continue the prohibition on using local dollars for abortion," Doxie McCoy, Gray's spokeswoman, told HuffPost. "We will have more to say at a later time upon full review of the legislation by the Mayor and staff."

Issa's office did not respond to a request for comment.\