Norton Thanks Planned Parenthood and the NAACP for Leading Letter Supporting D.C. Statehood Signed by 250 Women of Color Leaders

May 11, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today thanked Planned Parenthood and the NAACP for leading a letter to Congress signed by 250 women of color leaders supporting the District of Columbia statehood bill on public health and racial equality grounds.

“This letter makes important points,” Norton said. “Statehood would give voting representation to the residents of the District, almost half of whom are Black, and it would improve our ability to enact effective public health campaigns and deliver those medical service to historically underserved Black communities. While ‘no taxation without representation’ is our rallying cry, the letter led by Planned Parenthood and the NAACP notes many other reasons why statehood is the only just way to proceed for the residents of D.C.”

The letter follows.





Washington, D.C.’s more than 712,000 residents pay federal taxes, serve in the armed forces, and outnumber the residents of Wyoming or Vermont. Yet, because the District is not a state, Washingtonians are denied the right to representation in Congress. They have no vote on the federal laws and policies that shape their lives. Instead, lawmakers who do not represent Washingtonians use the District’s lack of statehood to play politics with residents’ livelihoods, and with their health.

Nearly half of District residents are Black. If Washington finally became a state, it would be the first state with a plurality of Black residents. Statehood for the District of Columbia is a racial justice issue — and it’s a public health imperative.

As the country works to distribute vaccines and end the COVID-19 pandemic — which has devastated Black and Latino communities with higher infection rates, death rates, and job losses — the District’s lack of autonomy has put residents’ health at risk. Large proportions of D.C.’s vaccine allotment has gone to federal agencies and to non-residents while Black residents are going without. While D.C.’s Black residents have accounted for nearly half of COVID-19 cases and nearly 70% of deaths, they’ve received only 37% of vaccines.

This is not new: Congress passes annual legislation prohibiting D.C. from using locally-raised tax dollars to cover abortion care for people enrolled in Medicaid, forcing many to pay out-of-pocket-for this essential health care service. Because of centuries of systemic racism, people who use Medicaid are disproportionately people of color — this D.C. Medicaid policy is part of the long history of denying Black and Brown people and immigrant communities autonomy over their reproductive health.

And reproductive health care in the District is in crisis: While white D.C. residents have a maternal mortality rate of almost zero, Black residents suffer a maternal mortality rate so high that the District has the fifth worst overall rate in the country — more than 50% higher than the national average.

It has always been morally reprehensible to deny the people of Washington, D.C. representation in our democracy. But the triple intersecting crises of COVID-19, systemic racism, and attacks on reproductive health have laid bare the depth of inequity experienced by D.C residents, particularly those of color. People who live in Washington, D.C. are being denied the autonomy to build their own health care systems and make their own choices about their bodies. This is a matter of life and death.

We applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for passing H.R. 51: Washington, D.C. Admission Act. Now the U.S. Senate must immediately take up and pass the bill and admit the District as the 51st state.




Alexis McGill Johnson, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Dr. Serina Floyd, Vice President of Medical Affairs/Medical Director, Planned Parenthood of

Metropolitan Washington, DC

U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood (IL-14)

Akosua Ali, President, NAACP Washington, DC Branch

Charisma K. Adams

Abiola Agoro

Yvette Alexander

Akosua Ali

Ashley Allison

Karen Maria Alston

Alexis Anderson-Reed

Rev. Rochelle S. Andrews

Maritza Arias Basemore

Shavon Arline-Bradley

Wandra Ashley-Williams

Ophelia Averitt

Jacqueline Ayers

Jasmine Bailey

Valerie Hollingsworth Baker

Michele Barnwell

Cora Masters Barry

Maya J. Bermingham

Alaina C. Beverly

Denele D. Biggs

Lori George Billingsley

Natasha Black

Jinger Black

Larcine Bland

Arletha Bland-Manlove

Ashley Bland Manlove

Barbara Bolling-Williams

Dr. Toni Bond

Councilmember Anita Bonds

Briana Booker

Karen Boykin-Towns

Renee Bracey Sherman

Donna Brazile

Charisse Bremond Weaver

Roslyn M. Brock

Dr. Sonja Brookins

Debra Brown

Dy Brown

Cherie Brown Jackson

LaKeisha Brown

LaSharron T. Brown

Khadijah Brydson Van

Irene Bueno

Kelly Burton

Jara Butler

Lisa D. Cagnolatti-Daniels

Ericka Cain

Melanie Campbell

Glynda Carr

Adria Carter

Virginia Case

Chellee R. Cephas

Judith G. Cephas

Angela Chester-Johnson

Jessica Childress

Juliet Choi

Melika Clarke

Delmarie Cobb

Brandi Colander

Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole

Carolyn Q. Coleman

Edda Collins Coleman

Maurita Coley

Debra A. Collins

Judie Hawley Conley, Esq.

Akua D. Coppock, Esq.

Sharon Cox

Renee Crews

Danielle Daughtry

Rev. Leah Daughtry

Barbara Sapp Davis

Theresa A. Dear

Paula DeBoles-Johnson

Jacquelyn Demps

Judith Browne Dianis

Georgette Dixon

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Paula Dunbar

Emem Dunn

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Chioma Echeumuna

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Kimberley Egonmwan. Esq.

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Charnell Ferguson

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Tammy Greenlee Brown

Tamara Gregory

Teresa Haley

Antoinette MaCintosh Harper

Khalilah Harris

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Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson

Councilmember Christina Henderson

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Silvia Henriquez

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Carmel Henry

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Antoinette M. Jackson, Esq.

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Marie Y. Lemelle

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Celeste Malone

Dr. Julianne Malveaux

Rev. Dr. Charlette Stokes Manning

La'Tasha D. Mayes

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Aisha J. McClendon

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Dianna McFarlane

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Vernice Miller-Travis

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Aisha Nash, Esq.

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Stasha Rhodes

Diane Robertson

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Chandra Robinson

Kelley Robinson

Madie Robinson

Yumeka Rushing

Deidre Sanders

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Margie Scott, Esq.

Eveline Shen

Esther Silver Parker

Stephanie Silverman

Monica Simpson

Eris Sims

Beverly E. Smith

Danyell Smith

Joanne N. Smith

Shirley Rivens Smith

Dee Srivastava

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Lakeila R. Stemmons. Esq.

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Tiffini A. Young