Press Releases

Republican Approval of Conyers Amendment Proves that Bill Never Had Anything to Do with Civil Rights

Washington, DC, February 8, 2012

At a markup held today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) opposed H.R. 3541, the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, the purpose of which is to limit a woman’s right to choose and restrict her access to safe, legal medical care. 

During debate, Constitution Subcommittee Chairman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) offered into the record a letter of support from a group calling itself the Frederick Douglass Foundation as evidence that Frederick Douglass’ historical legacy supported assertions that he would have supported the substance of the bill.  However, Constitution Subcommittee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) pointed out that the group’s own website described their membership as “Active Republicans” dedicated to supporting the political agenda of the Republican Party, not a non-partisan foundation dedicated to preserving the historical legacy of Frederick Douglass as its name might lead one to believe.       

Ranking Member Conyers offered an amendment to strike the names of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass from the bill title, which was accepted by a majority vote of 24-1.  Ranking Member Conyers released the following statement in response to the committee’s action today:

“This bill was named to invoke the historic struggle of African Americans and women for equal civil rights, but the bill has nothing to do with protecting civil rights at all,” said Conyers.  “To the contrary, this legislation violates a woman’s right to privacy as affirmed by the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.  The bill would require doctors to police their patients, undermining patient/doctor privilege.  It limits a woman’s right to choose and jeopardizes her access to safe, legal medical care. 

“It is offensive that the sponsors of this bill would invoke the names of two of our Nation’s historic civil rights pioneers.  The fact that a majority of Republican Committee Members voted to accept my amendment is an admission on their part that this bill never had anything to do with advancing  civil rights.  The bill’s sponsors may give this bill any name they choose but it will not hide the fact that it is a unconstitutional attempt to limit a woman’s right to privacy.”