House Republican mocks congresswoman’s ‘hysterics’ after she attacks Trumpcare

Rep. Lee gave a passionate speech about the Republican health care bill.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, holds up a printed article from The Washington Post, as she questions Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. CREDIT: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, holds up a printed article from The Washington Post, as she questions Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. CREDIT: AP/J. Scott Applewhite

After Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) gave a scathing critique of the Republican health care bill on the House floor before a vote on Thursday, a Republican colleague sneeringly described her remarks as hysterical.

Lee asked that Republicans have compassion for the people who would be most harmed by the bill: low-income people, people with preexisting conditions, and seniors.

Lee said:

God have mercy on your soul. I am a person living with a preexisting disease. I am a breast cancer survivor. And this heartless and callous bill, with 24 million plus people being thrown off of their health care, and reverse Robin Hood of stealing from the poor and the seniors laying in their bed where you’re doing an age tax that is five times more than any other young person has to pay, is disgraceful. And the pittance you’ve giving for preexisting conditions — $8 billion — they say you need $25 billion … I want to make sure that Medicaid is provided for working families … I don’t want the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg on the streets, to steal bread from the market because they can’t get any health insurance. God have mercy.”

After her time expired, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) responded, “If I had to defend Obamacare, I’d go into hysterics too.”

“Hysterics” is a pretty loaded choice of word to use to describe Lee’s critique.

The word “hysteria” has been linked to women for a very long time. It is “undoubtedly the first mental disorder attributable to women … and until Freud considered an exclusively female disease,” according to a 2012 paper published in the journal, Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health. It wasn’t declassified as a mental health disorder until the 1950s.

A few health issues were tied to Hysteria, such as anxiety, fainting, and nervousness, and it became a convenient diagnosis when it wasn’t clear to doctors exactly what their patients were suffering from. One indication women had hysteria was “a tendency to cause trouble for others,” according to author Rachel Maine in The Technology of the Orgasm.

Rep. Lee may or may not be “causing trouble” for Collins and other Trumpcare proponents. But it is interesting that the Rep. Collins chose to use a word from the more unsavory annals of medical history in a debate about the merits of a health care bill.