In the middle of a charged debate on the floor of the House over a plan to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood, Jackie Speier, a Democratic representative from California, found “her stomach in knots.” The proposal was part of an attempt to cut off money from Planned Parenthood in order to force the group to stop performing abortions. Republican Chris Smith had just read at length from a former abortion provider turned anti-abortion activist, describing in great detail what a second-trimester abortion looks like on an ultrasound. That’s when Speier took the floor and did something that congressmen who expound on the evils of abortion usually can’t do: speak from actual experience. Speier, who was forced to terminate the pregnancy out of complications, took Smith to task, “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.” On a straight-talking roll, Speiers then proceeded call the proposal head-scratchingly irrelevant to either job creation or deficit reduction, calling out the Republican’s “vendetta against Planned Parenthood.”
Speier wasn’t the only congresswoman to speak out to counter inflammatory rhetoric with personal experience. Paul Broun, a physician and Republican from Georgia, and Gwen Moore, a Democrat from Wisconsin, also shared a heated exchange.
Broun said, “We treat green turtle eggs better than we treat children in the womb.” He also argued that because most clinics are in ethnic neighborhoods “more black babies are killed” by Planned Parenthood.
Dang, turn your back on C-SPAN for a day and things get really, really good. Despite Speier and Moore’s impassioned opposition, the House voted 240-185 to pass the bill, which will move on to the Senate. Since the Democratic-run Senate is stronger on abortion rights than the House, the proposal is not likely to pass.