February 2, 2012

IT WAS JUST two weeks ago that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) was observing to us the misguided tendency of some of his colleagues to meddle in the local affairs of the District of Columbia. He noted that, as chairman of the House committee with oversight over the District, he has to fend off efforts from representatives who come to Washington and want to be its ­“mini-mayors.” Imagine then our surprise to see Mr. Issa co-sponsoring a noxious measure that would impose stringent restrictions on abortions performed in the city. Hypocrisy knows no bounds when it comes to the rights of D.C. citizens.

“The District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” introduced by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), would prohibit abortions beyond the 20th week after fertilization. Modeled after laws in Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Oklahoma and Alabama, the bill is being pushed by the National Right to Life Committee, which, as the Hill reported, hopes to do election-year damage to President Obama and congressional Democrats by forcing them to take a potentially dangerous stand. According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, the bill is the first time a post-20-week abortion ban has been introduced in Congress.

Congressional interference in District business is nothing new — witness the ban on the District using its own tax dollars to pay for abortions for low-income women and the periodic attempts to eliminate needle exchange programs or overturn local gun control. But this measure is particularly offensive in that its backers defend it as a way to prevent the unborn from feeling terrible pain. “It would address the pain and suffering of children who have done nothing wrong,” Mr. Franks said this week.

Putting aside the suspect science and the inherent constitutional issues, one has to question why Mr. Franks, Mr. Issa and other members of the GOP aren’t insisting this legislation be enacted for the entire nation — or, at the very, least for their own congressional districts. Is not the pain and suffering of children in California and Arizona a worry to them? Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) told The Post’s Mike DeBonis that Republicans could get a vote on the nationwide bill but “it’s just easier to go after the District.” In other words, the District retains its status as political pawn, even for those who profess to be a friend.