WASHINGTON (WDVM) — A D.C. statehood bill that was reintroduced into the Senate in January will likely need the support of every Democrat to pass out of the Senate’s Homeland Security Government Affairs committee, which is split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. It will also need to beat a legislative filibuster and get enough votes to pass on the Senate floor.
Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington says D.C. statehood promotes women’s reproductive health. PPMW also says it’s a civil rights issue. The organization believes D.C.’s lack of representation “has led to increased and unacceptable barriers to health care and other essential needs for District residents,” especially for Black residents who make up nearly half of the total population.
All laws passed and signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser are subject to a 30-day Congressional review period. “Too often, critical legislation is stonewalled or overturned altogether by members of Congress who don’t represent Washingtonians,” said Chief Executive Officer Laura Meyer.
“After the District passed the District of Columbia Reproductive Health and Nondiscrimination Act, which prohibited employers from discriminating against employees based on their personal reproductive health decisions, the House of Representatives passed an appropriations bill blocking the District from using its locally-raised tax dollars from enforcing it,” Meyer said.
Congress also passes annual legislation that prohibits the District of Columbia from using its own, locally-raised tax dollars to cover abortions for D.C. residents that use Medicaid.
“Because of centuries of systemic racism,” said Meyer, “people who use Medicaid are disproportionately Black. And Black people can and should be able to make their own decisions about their health.”
According to the D.C. Primary Care Association, D.C. has the fifth-worst maternal mortality rate in the country, but Meyer says the rate of maternal mortality among white D.C. residents is zero.
“If D.C. becomes a state it will be the first state that will have a plurality of Black residents,” said Meyer, “so if we think about non-statehood, that has the effect of silencing.”