Planned Parenthood debate takes personal turn
February 18th, 2011
03:04 PM ET
4 years ago

Planned Parenthood debate takes personal turn

Washington (CNN) – Disclosing a miscarriage is a powerful revelation for any woman to make. For a US Congresswoman on the House floor, it's downright striking.

During a debate Thursday evening over whether to defund Planned Parenthood, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, described her own personal experience with the dilation and evacuation procedure.

"I had a procedure at 17 weeks pregnant with a child who moved from the vagina into the cervix," Speier said. "And that procedure that you just described is a procedure that I endured."

Speier was responding to a description of the procedure that Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, read as part of his opposition to Planned Parenthood.

Speier continued, "I lost the baby. And for you to stand on this floor and suggest that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed or done cavalierly or done without any thought, is preposterous."

According to Tim Schlittner, Speier's spokesman, the revelation was spur-of-the-moment.

"It was not planned," he said. "Chris Smith of New Jersey was talking about a procedure that's known as D and E, and that is the procedure that the congresswoman had."

"She was moved to speak out about it," Schlittner added. "He knew very little about it. She spoke from the heart about her own experience."

Rep. Smith's office did not immediately respond to a call for comment.

Contrary to some news reports, Speiers did not have an abortion.

"She did not consider it an abortion, it was a miscarriage," Schlittner said. "The fetus moved to where it could not survive, so they had to end the pregnancy."

Speier's admission came during a heated debate on the House floor over federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana, is spearheading the effort to deny funds to the group. The House voted Friday to deny funding to the group.

Speier's spokesman said the measure was "dead-on-arrival" in the Senate.

Friday, Speier thanked supporters on her Facebook page.

"I'm overwhelmed by the warm comments I've received from across the U.S today," she wrote. "I will always stand up for women's health and reproductive rights."

Following the amendment's passage in the House Friday, the Congresswoman released the following statement:

"Last night, I spoke on the House floor about a painful time in my life when the pregnancy that my husband and I prayed for was unsuccessful. I had what's called dilation and evacuation or d & e. The fetus slipped from my uterus into my vagina and could not survive. Today some news reports are implying that I wanted my pregnancy to end, but that is simply not true. I lost my baby," she said.

"It is time to stop politicizing women's health. For some, describing a procedure like the one I endured is nothing more than talking points. But for millions of women like me it's much more-it's something that will always be a part of us.

"Planned Parenthood provides vital services to women including family planning and cervical cancer screenings. I am disappointed that the House passed the Pence amendment to defund it. These sorts of policies would turn back the clock on women's health and reproductive rights. I urge the Senate to defeat it. It is time to stop playing politics with our lives."

CNN's Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report


Filed under: Abortion • Congress
soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. Annie, Atlanta

    I don't understand the attack on Planned Parenhood. For people who cannot afford to see a regular doctor, men and women alike, this is a service we cannot do without. For those people who don't believe in abortion, it's a legal medical procedure that you can chose to have or not. So don't have one. Just don't tell others what they can and cannot do based on your beliefs. That's not who we are. And I don't think you really want to go there, or someone will be telling you in the future what you can or cannot do.

    February 18, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  2. ConservaFascists

    It looks like Rep. Smith stuck his foot in his mouth and doesn;t know what the heck he's talking about. Leave womens rights alone and focus on what you campaigned on: JOBS

    WHERE ARE THE JOBS?????

    February 18, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  3. Bill

    She's a very brave woman, America needs many more just like her.

    February 18, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  4. Frank

    no fed dollars for this group....pay for your own services!

    February 18, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  5. cathy

    what she had was different from an abortion...night and day.

    February 18, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  6. mcoville

    And her story is related to the debate why? This is just another ploy by democrats to make the debate emotional so they can avoid reality.

    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

    February 18, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  7. jeff, alabama

    People in this world have taken
    selfishness to a new level in
    human history.
    To debate on the best way to
    kill a kid, or how to kill a kid , or
    at what stage it's ok to kill a kid
    is vile.
    It makes the nazis of the 1930s
    and 1940s look common place.
    God help us all.

    February 18, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  8. Vader

    Tough lady.

    February 18, 2011 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  9. ReallY!!?

    This woman is really stupid that she cannot tell the difference between one choosing an abortion and having a procedure to remove a dead fetus fr her womb! The fact that she would make the leap fr medically necessary procedured and the choice to have an abortion strikes me as moronic.
    unbelievable. How do u respond to ignorance?

    February 18, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  10. sonny chapman

    When Conservative " Christians" begin to worry half as much about the kids outside the womb as they claim to worry about those inside the womb, this country will be a better place for ALL kids to grow up in– not just those born w/blond hair, blue eyes & straight teeth.

    February 18, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  11. RdclCntrst

    Wow. Just... wow. Major kudos to Rep. Speier for telling it like it is.
    And while we're on the topic, can anyone explain to me why if, as Republicans say, the government should stay out of health care, they make so much stink about legalizing or banning this particular medical procedure? "Death panels", indeed. And don't tell me it's a moral issue; as Ronald Reagan said, "You can't legislate morality." (He really did say that. Look it up.) What that means here is that even if you consider abortion to be a moral issue, why is it the government's decision as to how a woman and her family should make this choice? We don't legislate how many children people can have, or where, or how, or even who is allowed to have children and who isn't (and having worked with survivors of incest and child abuse, I'm of the opinion that there are definitely people who should never be allowed to breed).
    My point here is that whether or not you like abortion, the decision to have one should rest solely with the person who will be dealing with the consequences: the mother (and possibly the father, in certain circ u mstances). The government should NOT be in a position to make this decision. Period.

    February 18, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  12. Thank you Congresswoman!

    Thank you congresswoman for demonstrating grace under pressure and a profile in courage. I'm sure the loonies that post on here will try to drag you down but please don't let them. Your work is truly appreciated.

    February 18, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  13. RdclCntrst

    Wow. Just... wow. Major kudos to Rep. Speier for telling it like it is.
    And while we're on the topic, can anyone explain to me why if, as Republicans say, the government should stay out of health care, they make so much stink about legalizing or banning this particular medical procedure? "Death panels", indeed. And don't tell me it's a moral issue; as Ronald Reagan said, "You can't legislate morality." (He really did say that. Look it up.) What that means here is that even if you consider abortion to be a moral issue, why is it the government's decision as to how a woman and her family should make this choice? We don't legislate how many children people can have, or where, or how, or even who is allowed to have children and who isn't (and having worked with survivors of incest and child abuse, I'm of the opinion that there are definitely people who should never be allowed to breed).
    My point here is that whether or not you like abortion, the decision to have one should rest solely with the person who will be dealing with the consequences: the mother (and possibly the father, in certain instances). The government should NOT be in a position to make this decision. Period.

    February 18, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  14. Jim

    Wow. Emote, emote, emote. That's all Democrats can do to make their case.

    February 18, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  15. Nini

    Having an abortion is a choice that people should have.
    Places like Planned Parenthood should exist for the people who make the choice of having an abortion.

    But you and I shouldn't have to pay for it. Government shouldn't regulate it and shouldn't fund it.

    February 18, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  16. Al-NY,NY

    While the American Taliban tries (in vain)t to defund this, they will surely INCREASE funding to religious-based (aka Christian) schools, where everyone is indoctrinated in the 'family values" way of llife....lying, cheating, being hypocritical, etc

    February 18, 2011 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  17. sammieb51

    Its called a D&C, most hospitals do them every day for a variety of reasons that have NOTHING to do with pregnancy and birth.

    February 18, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  18. Michelle in Tallahassee

    This is entirely different. She had to have the procedure done. Most abortions are elective.

    February 18, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    Thank you, Rep. Speier, for sharing your most personal story. And thank you again for standing up for women's reproductive rights.

    February 18, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  20. MJ

    Planned Parenthood is nothing more than an Abortion Clinic. This is where they make there money. No money is made by convincing a woman to keep her pregnancy. It is about time that they lose Taxpayer's money to fund this.

    February 18, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  21. Some Day

    Only one thing to say about this; if she felt bad.....how about the Baby.....and more especially....how about God, what about "The Giver of All Life???? Where does God fit into Planned Parenthoods model???? One day Sir and one day Madam....."we will ALL stand before God and give account of what we did and did not do....." Romanns 14:12.....and by-the-way....you egnostics & "so-called atheists" can say nasty things about God today and make light of His words, but you TOO some day will stand before HIM and give an account even of those nasty things against HIM! It would be wise to be careful.

    February 18, 2011 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  22. earl fey

    Now abortion is ony for rich men and women so they can avoid diminishing their wealth by raising a rich child and avoid having raising a child interfer with accunulating additional wealth. Also the rich should avoid any action that would use some of there wealth ti help children of parents who are too poor to afford an abortion.

    Men are also responsible, remember

    Real names on responces please

    February 18, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  23. Louisiana Man

    Its always amazed me how men can lambaste, condemn and degrade women who make this most personal and painful decision.
    I'm sure the women who choose to abort mull painfully over their status and it is not a sporadic nor spontaneous decision. And to be dehumanized by these self righteous, holier than thou, bible thumping men is horrific. Who are they to pass judgment of any women?

    February 18, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  24. BR

    Refreshing to hear a strong opinion from someone who actually has a direct stake in the subject.

    February 18, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  25. Jeepers

    We need to educate, educate, educate. Unfortunately, the kind of person who opposes reproductive rights is generally opposed to educating themselves about anything other than what their clergy person tells them they're supposed to be believing at any given moment.

    February 18, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
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