In an unexpected turn of events Wednesday, several Democratic women started a protest right outside the House Judiciary Committee's room in the Rayburn Office Building. The protest was strategically placed outside the door where a panel of Republican men were meeting about H.R. 7 — otherwise known as the No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act. The GOP has had this anti-abortion bill on its agenda for awhile, and it is now fondly known as a rape insurance bill by the opposition (note the sarcasm). Unsurprisingly, the Democratic women were not amused.
According to a count by Roll Call, at least 100 people turned out to protest. Many waved around orange index cards or white signs with slogans like, "Stop H.R. 7" and "Where are the women?"
Some of the most prominent faces in the crowd were Rep. Judy Chu of California, Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York, and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton of D.C.
Here's a picture of the three of them below at the protest:
Rep. Slaughter spoke out forcefully against the anti-abortion panel at the protest:
It’s increasingly evident that the only women’s agenda that the Republicans have put forward is to take away your health care rights and then tell you to get lost. Women are sick and tired of these constant attacks on our constitutionally-protected right to choose, while priorities like equal pay, fair wages and paid family leave go unaddressed
Their protest took up enough space in the hallway that Capitol Police officers had to tell the protestors to move aside. As 11 a.m. struck, and the committee members were still trying to get into the room. The protestors continued chanting, "Where are the women?"
This all comes less than a week after Democratic women representatives wrote the GOP a memo calling them out for trying to pass a bill that would raise taxes on entities providing abortion coverage.
Well, good for them. As Bustle has reported, H.R. 7 certainly seems worth fighting:
This bill was introduced all the way back in May 2013 by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) Now, it’s Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) who’s pushing for the bill, which would ”prohibit taxpayer funded abortions and to provide for conscience protections, and for other purposes.”
If passed, H.R. 7 would also prohibit any federal health care facility or doctor employed by the federal government from providing abortion. Plus, it would treat the District of Columbia as a federal area, a provision which has sparked the ire of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.
The exceptions to the bill? Abortion would be still a taxpayer issue if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or if the woman’s health is in life-threatening danger. And while the bill might pass in the House, the Senate has enough Democrats to give the bill a screeching halt. Luckily.
Unfortunately, over 20 state legislatures are already passing similar bills of their own, otherwise known as ”rape insurance bills.” So even if the House Republicans can’t get H.R. 7 to pass, they have state legislatures to carry out their wishes.