In the heated House debate yesterday on a proposal to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding for women's health and sex education services, one speech stood out. California representative Jackie Speier said she would abandon her prepared remarks because "my stomach is in knots." Then she told the world about her own abortion.
In her case, it was a wanted pregnancy she had to terminate because of complications. "But for you to stand on this floor and to suggest, as you have, that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed or done cavalierly or done without any thought is preposterous." She then went on to say that Republicans were wasting the time of Americans, who are primarily concerned with jobs and not with what is, last time we all checked, a legal procedure. There's no other way to say it: She kicked ass. (Also, just hearing the word vagina on the House floor is excitement enough.)
Meanwhile, Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin showed yet another reason why it's important to elect women and people of color — the prospect of a bunch of old white guys standing around talking about black women's fertility and alleged genocide. After Rep. Paul Brown said (falsely) that clinics target neighborhoods where people of color live and that "more black babies are killed" by Planned Parenthood.
Moore replied, "I know all about black babies. I've had three of them. I had the first one at the ripe old age of 18." She knows something else, too: Republicans' policies show "utter contempt for poor women and poor children." (The anti-abortion site LifeNews took aim at Moore for going "as far as implying that it is better to have an abortion than make a child be forced to live 'eating Ramen noodles' and 'mayonnaise sandwiches.'" Food lobbyists can't be pleased either.)
Michele Bachmann chimed in in support of the bill, saying Planned Parenthood uses government money to "build fancy abortion centers" in LifeNews' paraphrase, and said it should lose its nonprofit tax status. Joe Pitts, he of Stupak Pitts, threw in Kermit Gosnell (in the reality-based world, not affiliated with Planned Parenthood) for good measure.
Even an anti-abortion Democrat, Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts, essentially said he felt like he was taking crazy pills. ""We used to agree that the best way to decrease abortions is to prevent unwanted pregnancy."
The idea of cutting Title X funding, which provides $317 million to family planning services that includes Planned Parenthood, is sufficiently radical that the Times ended its piece with this uncharacteristically pointed kicker:
In an e-mailed response, Lila Rose, the president of Live Action, said the answer was not to support a group that, in her words, helps sex traffickers. But she did not suggest how Planned Parenthood's birth control services could be replaced.
This is one of those true colors moments, where it becomes clear that this isn't really about abortion alone, but is about a deep-seated opposition even to birth control and safe sex.
A vote is expected today. If this pisses you off and you're a U.S. voter, let your rep know how you feel.
Update: Here's video of Rep. Moore.
Planned Parenthood Financing Is Caught in Budget Feud [NYT]
House Considers Amendment To Defund Planned Parenthood [LifeNews]
Must See Video of Cong. Jackie Speier's Powerful Rebuke to Cong. Chris Smith on Abortion [RH Reality Check]
Rep. Jackie Speier Gets Personal On Abortion [Politico]