D.C.

D.C. home rule threatened by Congressional interference

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In the District, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and Mayor Vincent Gray have assembled a network of 100 advocacy groups that can help fend off what they consider to be Congressional interference into local affairs.

They're currently fighting anti-abortion legislation on Capitol Hill, but they're also worried about some other laws.

D.C. Vote Executive Director Ilir Zherka says, " I think a lot of members of Congress when they attack the District count on people back home not knowing what they're doing and really not caring. So part of our job is that people know, people care and that they act."

Advocates are most concerned about legislation by Arizona Representative Trent Franks that would prevent abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Just last week, D.C. Vote swarmed Franks' office in protest. This week, they've called on groups like NARAL Pro-Choice America to spread the word.

Norton (D-District of Columbia) says, "And when you see those rights go down in one jurisdiction, you can't be sure this isn't a national campaign to take those rights away."

The network also includes organization who want to protect other D.C. laws, like the Human Rights Campaign for same sex marriage or the Brady Campaign for gun control.

Zherka adds, "I think Washingtonians need to be aware there's a range of issues that can come up this year, next year and into the future."

But not matter the issue, will activist across the country take the time to fight on D.C.'s behalf?

"I mean when there's an attack on a woman's right to choose, it doesn't matter if it's in D.C. where that attack happens or out in Arizona...," NARAL Pro-Choice President Nancy Keenan.

In the past Franks has argued that it's the responsibility of Congress to restrict abortions in the District. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Meanwhile, groups like the National Right to Life Committee call the bill their top legislative priority, because it would "protect pain-capable unborn children". They add that despite D.C. home rule, they're fighting this fight because this bill applies to the nation's capital.

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