By Elise Viebeck - 05/16/12 07:27 PM EDT
The head of a leading abortion-rights groups promised to "flood" the offices of some House members with messages of opposition to a bill that would criminalize abortions after 20 weeks in the District of Columbia.
The message came ahead of a hearing on the bill, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), that is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
"The politicians behind this bill, who claim to support smaller government, are obsessed with attacking choice and willing to override locally elected officials to undermine the doctor-patient relationship," NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan said in a statement.
"We believe that women should be able to make personal, private decisions with their doctors, and without political interference."
Franks's office did not respond to a request for comment.
The bill, H.R. 3803, takes cues from laws passed in six states that ban abortions after 20 weeks because research has suggested that fetuses can feel pain at that point, Republicans say. It contains new reporting requirements and, under certain circumstances, civil remedies for partners and parents of women who have abortions.
D.C. physicians who disobey the terms would be fined or imprisoned for up to two years.
Keenan called the legislation "out of touch with our nation’s values and priorities."
"That's why we will flood committee members’ offices with messages of opposition to this far-reaching bill," she said.
D.C. officials have denounced the measure and criticized Republicans for trying to circumvent local officials on abortion. According to NARAL, Franks is barring D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) from providing testimony Thursday.
The bill was introduced in January and had 185 co-sponsors on Wednesday. A companion bill from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) was introduced in the Senate in February.
A witness list for Thursday's hearing, which the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution will host, was not provided.