Since gaining the upper-hand in the House, Republicans have led what Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called “the most comprehensive and radical assault on women’s health in our lifetime.” Blindly constructing bills to redefine rape, to leave women to die rather than perform an abortion, and to cut off support for women’s health care clinics, the House GOP has beat the anti-choice drum while woefully ignorant of how such sanctimony affects women in the real world.
Yesterday, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) shattered that bubble on the House floor as the debate to defund Planned Parenthood neared its third hour. Speier planned to speak on a different topic but when Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) read a lengthy account of an abortion procedure in graphic and gruesome detail and described it as “child abuse,” Speier confronted his “preposterous” ignorance with an intimate revelation — she had to have an abortion:
SPEIER: You know I had really planned to speak about something else. But the gentleman from New Jersey just put my stomach in knots. Because I am one of those woman he spoke about just now. I had a procedure at 17 weeks, pregnant with a child that had moved from the vagina into the cervix. And that procedure that you just talked about is a procedure I endured. I lost a baby. 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. To think that we are here tonight debating this issue, while 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?” The answer is nothing at all.
Speier’s courageous revelation shines in stark contrast to members like Smith — who introduced the bill redefining rape — and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) who cavalierly detail abortion procedures without any real knowledge of the deeply emotional and physical pain inherent in such a private decision. The difficulty and danger in bringing a child to bear, and the heart-wrenching decision not to, comes with the territory of being a woman. As Speier so eloquently proves, such a responsibility deserves respect, understanding, and above all, privacy.