WASHINGTON, D.C., April 12, 2011 ( – The mayor of the District of Columbia and other city officials have been arrested on Capitol Hill as they protested having lost government funding for local abortions.


Bearing a sign with the words “Congress: Don’t Tread on D.C.,” Mayor Vincent Gray led a crowd of local activists to Senate offices Monday; he was joined by six council members, including the chairman.

The group was opposing the budget deal cut by Congressional leaders Friday night that reinstated the Dornan amendment barring taxpayer-funded abortion in D.C., and restored the voucher program that helps parents afford to take their children out of public schools.

Forty-one protesters including the mayor and all six council members were arrested for unlawful assembly and for “blocking passage” near the Capitol, Politico reports. “We needed to make a statement,” Gray said upon leaving jail.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton had warned the president not to offer any D.C.-related riders to the GOP in the budget deal, and mentioned both abortion and the voucher program.

“It would be unacceptable to use the District’s low income women as a bargaining chip at a time when women’s rights advocates and the District have been particularly focused on protecting the city from a return to this restriction,” wrote Norton.

Although the GOP was unable to secure the defunding of Planned Parenthood in the annual budget, pro-life leaders counted it a major victory that the Obama administration agreed to restore the Dornan amendment and to hold separate Senate votes on funding for both Planned Parenthood and the abortion-expanding health care reform law.