by E. J. Montini, columnist
– Jun. 1, 2012
You can take the zealot out of Arizona, but you can’t take the Arizona out of the zealot.
Just ask the good folks of Washington, D.C., who can’t figure out why an obscure congressman from 2,000 miles away wants to tell them how to live their lives.
Trent Franks, the longtime representative of Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District, is pushing legislation that would ban abortions in the district after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
This puzzles the people of Washington, who did not elect Franks to anything and don’t even know him.
It is less puzzling to readers of The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com, where I posted a blog on Franks’ crusade earlier this week.
Reader Barry Williams wrote, “It is a bad situation for the District of Columbia when a politician from Arizona decides anything for the people who live there. Franks comes from a state which wishes to seize federal lands, start its own militia, and repeatedly joust with the windmill of the President’s birth certificate. Franks is a congressman from a state that has proven itself to be politically dysfunctional. Now he is carrying Arizona’s political dysfunction across the country and trying to impose his will on people who didn’t vote for him and whom he really cares little about.”
Reader Margret Louk added, “According to the report I read, he refused to allow the non-voting delegate to even testify to what her constituents want. Since this country was founded on no taxation without representation, and the people of the District of Columbia pay a lot of money in taxes, it would seem this is a major problem.”
Not to Rep. Franks.
In 1987 he was appointed by then-Gov. Evan Mecham (who was later impeached and removed from office) to head the Governor’s Office for Children. At the time, Franks was a one-term state legislator who had lost a bid for re-election and was known almost exclusively as a one-note, anti-abortion politician. He made news not long after his appointment by referring to Planned Parenthood as an organization that was “murdering children for profit.”
Not long after that, Franks got upset when The Arizona Republic, in an editorial, referred to him as “the quintessential single-issue politician.”
But here he is, 25 years later …
Some residents of D.C. have staged protests at the Arizona congressman’s office, sarcastically wondering if Franks is also interested in repairing potholes or dealing with sewage issues in the district.
Those are local issues. Franks claims to believe in local control. So how does a politician who rails against big government justify imposing his personal agenda on people who didn’t elect him?
I contacted Franks’ office about this. A spokesman sent me a statement from the congressman that reads in part:
“Congress has the seminal and incontrovertible responsibility for making legislative policy in the District of Columbia. Those who pretend to question that are in fact trying to direct attention away from the true purpose of this bill, which is to help prevent unborn children beginning at the sixth month of pregnancy and beyond from being subject to the agonizing process of being aborted.
“If Congress does not pass this law, DC could become a safe-haven for late-term abortionists across the country, including those who have been stripped of their licenses for negligence or ethics violations in the states. Many states have passed this bill already, and I believe that most states will pass it in the near future, including my state, Arizona.
“Medical science proves that the unborn feel pain by at least 20 weeks and perhaps much earlier. There is no disagreement in the medical community as to this point. My office can furnish much incontrovertible research to support this finding.”
Franks’ blustery statement is a roundabout way of avoiding the fact that he is intruding in a local jurisdiction’s affairs, using his position to dictate to people who didn’t elect him and proving, as our state does over and over again, that you can take the zealot out of Arizona, but …
Reach Montini at 602-444-8978 or firstname.lastname@example.org.