Some have focused on this matter as a debate on pro life versus pro choice. But to me, the issue at hand is the right of self-determination. This is about the residents of the District of Columbia, through their elected representatives, having the right to determine how local dollars are spent.

Because of this city’s unique status as a “district,” its residents have been denied the basic tenants of democracy—full representation in the House and Senate, and the budget autonomy granted to the 50 states that comprise the union.

Today, the sticking point is the funding of abortions. Tomorrow, it might some other issue, like funding for needle exchange programs. And until we achieve statehood, we will continue to be fodder for Congressional legislators and other special interest groups who want to impose their will on the residents of the District of Columbia.

So, we must continue the fight. Instances like this, where we are a pawn traded away as part of a larger end game, should not discourage us, but make us stronger and more determined than ever. As Bob Marley said, “Get up, stand up, don't give up the fight.”

Harry "Tommy" Thomas Jr. is the D.C. Councilmember representing Ward 5.