Feminism / News

Watch Rep. Speier and Rep. Moore Teach Some Old, White Men a Thing or Two

I didn’t get to watch the debate about defunding Planned Parenthood (and other providers of reproductive healthcare) last night, but based on the live tweeting I saw, I couldn’t wait for the videos of Gwen Moore and Jackie Speier to circulate.

Both of these short speeches illustrate so clearly why we need women’s voices in Congress. As Diane Webber at Politico reports, Speier told her own abortion story “after Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey read at length from a book written by a former abortion provider, now an anti-abortion activist, who described in great detail how a second-trimester abortion looks on an ultrasound.” Ooh, did someone get told? Yes! And after Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia expressed his deep concern for African-American fetuses, Moore politely handed him his privileged ass: “I know a lot about black babies. I’ve had three of them.” Can you see the cartoon hearts dancing around my head right now?

This farce of a “debate” is all the more shameful for being dominated by people who will never confront the sort of parenting decisions Speiers and Moore describe. I am so grateful that we have at least a few brave women in there who are willing and able to call bullshit.

Videos are below. ETA: Transcripts, from the Congressional Record, below the jump.

Ms. MOORE. I would plead with my colleagues to reject the Pence amendment and not to defund Planned Parenthood. And I mean that as a double entendre; to not defund the ability of women to plan parenthood. I know of what the previous speaker, the gentleman, referred.

To all those well-meaning people who want to speak about the value of life and not funding contraception and not wanting to make an abortion, which is the law of the land, available if people would choose that. I am really touched by the passion of the opposite to want to save black babies.

I can tell you, I know a lot about having black babies. I’ve had three of them. And I had my first one when I was 18 years old, at the ripe old age of 18. An unplanned pregnancy. And let me tell you, I went into labor, unfortunately, on New Year’s Eve, had not even one dime. Phone calls cost a dime at that time. I didn’t have a phone in my home and didn’t have a dime to go to the phone booth to call an ambulance, an ambulance which is a waste of money using Medicaid dollars, but I didn’t have a car and didn’t have cab fare.

I just want to tell you a little bit about what it’s like to not have Planned Parenthood. You have to add water to the formula to make it stretch. You have to give your kids Ramen noodles at the end of the month to fill up their little bellies so they won’t cry. You have to give them mayonnaise sandwiches. They get very few fresh fruits and vegetables because they are expensive.

It subjects children to low educational attainment because of the ravages of poverty. You know, one of the biggest problems that school districts have in educating some of these poor black children who are unplanned is that they are mobile; they are constantly moving because they can’t pay the rent.

And, yes, I heard many of you talk about sexual predators. It subjects them to sexual predators, as when you try to go out and do a little work you have to leave your kids with just anybody because you don’t have $800 to $1,200 a month for child care.

And let me tell you, you know, the public policy has treated poor children and women who have not had the benefit of Planned Parenthood with utter contempt. These same children, it has been very difficult to get them health insurance through CHIP.

When you go to the grocery store to buy them a little birthday cake with your food stamps, everyone stares at you in contempt.

And, yes, on a bipartisan basis, Democrats and Republicans ended the entitlement to Aid for Families With Dependent Children; so that when we have a recession like we have now, women, who are alone typically, poor, of color, with these poor black children, have no money, go months and months and months with little or nothing to sustain themselves.

And you know, I recall that the first item on the YouCut Web site was to cut temporary assistance to needy families. And let me tell you what it does to women who cannot plan their parenthood. It derails their ability to complete education and training so they can get a job.

The TANF law is very harsh. It won’t even let women complete high school diplomas. It sends them into work fair programs and very low wage service industries, often jobs with no unemployment benefits. And of course, they are treated with contempt and disdain when they apply for any aid. They are humiliated.

And so I would beg my colleagues, I would beg them to not defund Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is healthy for women, it’s healthy for children, and it’s healthy for our society.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Ms. SPEIER. Mr. Chairman, I had really planned to speak about something else, but the gentleman from New Jersey has just put my stomach in knots, because I’m one of those women 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 was a procedure that I endured. I lost the baby. 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. 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.

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 services for family planning. Planned Parenthood has a right to offer abortions. The last time I checked, abortions were legal in this country.

Now, you may not like Planned Parenthood. So be it. There are many on our side of the aisle that don’t like Halliburton, and Halliburton is responsible for extortion, for bribery, for 10 cases of misconduct in the Federal database for a $7 billion sole source contract. But do you see us over here filing amendments to wipe out funding for Halliburton? No. Because, frankly, that would be irresponsible.

I would suggest to you that it would serve us all very well if we moved on with this process and started focusing on creating jobs for the Americans who desperately want them.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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