In response to a D.C. law banning employer action in response to an abortion or other use of birth control, Republicans in Congress are attempting to stop it. This is wrong and stupid for a few reasons, none of which have anything to do with one’s stance on abortion itself.
The first reason is a simple acknowledgement of political realities. Congress does indeed have the power to override local laws such as this in the District of Columbia–something I’ll return to later–but to do so, the measure must pass both chambers and be signed by the president. Republicans are taking on this issue which is almost guaranteed to go nowhere–most likely not past the Senate, and certainly not past President Obama’s veto pen–just to attract media attention. The same committee was also responsible for the 2012 flap with Sandra Fluke, which was more ammunition for Democrats’ charge that year that Republicans were engaged in a “war on women”–although Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment was probably more destructive. So Congress isn’t going to be able to overrule the D.C. law, meaning that this will just generate more and more attention in the media, most likely negative. And like the 50-something “Repeal Obamacare” attempts, it’s a waste of taxpayer money.
Secondly, this shows untold hypocrisy. Many conservatives support maximizing local autonomy–for school boards, state governments, and more. So why should the national government meddle in local affairs here? The D.C. Council is duly elected and should have as much authority as a legislature or city council elsewhere. Yet I and my fellow citizens in D.C. lack representation in Congress while still paying income tax. It would be comical if it weren’t so sad, but the question of D.C. statehood and representation should be addressed ASAP, something I’d like to give a full blog treatment to.
And lastly, as the Post editorial I linked to earlier indicates, religion is no argument for policy. The First Amendment is pretty clear on this matter. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. These efforts are a waste of tax money, lawmakers’ time, and wrongheaded on several levels.