At the end of last week, the US House of Representatives voted 218 – 185 to stop funding organizations that perform abortions– even though the funding covers family planning and not abortion. All House Republicans + 11 Democrats voted for the bill which would completely de-fund Planned Parenthood and other family planning organizations.
On Thursday evening, before Friday’s vote, there was three hours of “emotional” floor debate in the US House of Representatives. The measure was sponsored by Rep. Mike Pence (D-Ind). From Politico.com…
Pence, of Indiana, touched off a vicious back-and-forth Thursday night in which Republicans insisted the organization is too aggressive about performing abortions and several Democrats charged that the GOP was waging a “war on women.”
Included in Thursday night’s speeches was the comment (above) by Rep. Jackie Spier (D-CA) who called out self-righteous, male Republicans for attacking women’s health. Reminding her male colleagues that abortion is legal in the US, Spier had the courage to reveal that she had had an abortion for medical reasons and had the courage to say to her male colleagues, How dare you judge women who make that difficult medical decision?
From the Huffington Post…
“…I’m one of those women he [Chris Smith, R-NJ] spoke about just now. I had a procedure at 17 weeks pregnant with a child who moved from the vagina into the cervix.”
After a weighty pause, Speier went on. “I lost a baby,” she said, pausing again. “But for you to stand on this floor and suggest, as you have, that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed or done cavalierly or done without any thought is preposterous.”
In the video above, Spier also says, “You may not like Planned Parenthood, but there are many on our side of the aisle who don’t like Halliburton.” She adds that you don’t see Democrats offering one amendment after another and wasting time trying to de-fund them. (Halliburton is the multi-national defense contractor that has made millions– if not billions– helping the US kill people around the world. For Republicans, killing people is just fine and, in fact, “business friendly,” but killing fetuses is murder. Go figure. Vice President Richard Chaney and President George W. Bush were both big-wigs at Halliburton before they ran the US into the ground. But I digress…)
More on the family planning debate from the Huffington Post…
[Terry] O’Neill [head of the National Organization for Women] said that the assault on contraception and family planning, which broadens the abortion battlefield, has long been the aim of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “The men in the black dresses — the guys who like to dress up in the black robes, and I’m talking about the Catholic bishops — have been doing this for decades. Their goal is to deprive women of reproductive health care services generally. Their strategy is to go after abortion first, contraception second,” she said. “One in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime. So, in fact, abortion is an essential, ordinary part of women’s reproductive health care needs.”
Speier questioned how an abortion debate was relevant to the House GOP’s campaign pledges to focus on job creation. “To think that we are here tonight debating this issue when the American people, if they are listening, are scratching their heads and wondering, What does this have to do with me getting a job? What does this have to do with reducing the deficit? And the answer is, nothing at all,” she said. “There is a vendetta against Planned Parenthood, and it was played out in this room tonight. Planned Parenthood has a right to operate. Planned Parenthood has a right to provide family planning services. Planned parenthood has a right to perform abortions. Last time you checked, abortions were legal in this country.”
No federal funds are used by Planned Parenthood for abortion services, and such services make up a tiny fraction of its operations. Jess McIntosh, a spokeswoman for Emily’s List, a Democratic-affiliated group that works to elect pro-choice women to Congress, noted that one in five women have visited a Planned Parenthood for health-related services, which will make the organization harder to demonize than ACORN, despite the similar assault being waged.
“This is a really clear example of why it’s important that we have a representative Congress. You don’t get that experience with a roomful of men,” said McIntosh. “Republicans are trying to demonize women by describing faceless procedures with no real life consequences. And what Representative Speier did yesterday was make that impossible. She put a human face on a real life choice. It’ much harder to demagogue that.” [Emphasis added.]
The legislation to de-fund family planning will now move to the Senate.