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. MR

    CNN.com, this is an odd photo to attach to such a serious article. Surely there is a better image of the congresswoman somewhere.

    February 18, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  2. lance corporal

    planned parenthood is NOT an abortion mill, the radical right is short sighted and ineffective, the reality is PLANNED parenthood's services will REDUCE abortions, just another case of IDEOLOGY usurping good public policy, this falacy that woman WANT to have abortions is just NUTS!!!! no one has an abortion lightly the "conservatives" who portray women like that are INTENTIONALLY LYING, the fact is NO ONE is pro abortion the other important fact is the republican/radical right political machine actually actually increase abortions by insisting on ineffective and actually counter productive approaches, this woman bared her soul and now you watch how this is twisted by the rabid side of the right, ann coulter will be insulting her within hours and I am disgusted, this woman did a good thing

    February 18, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  3. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The only thing republicans know about women is that they can drive in the commuter lane if they have a blown up doll with them.

    February 18, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rep Speier's disclosure, although of a highly private nature,was relevant and appropriate. Not all D & E's or D & C's (Dilation and Cutterage) are 'optional' as the Rethug Rep would have you believe. Some of them are life-saving, necessary,and they are ALL emotionally painful.

    Sen Brown's disclosure, on the other hand, was just plain bizarre and appeared to come out of left-field. what would prompt this young man to publicly disclose such an intimately private matter?!? Glad to see that he overcame such beginnings in life, but the revelation was a huge non-sequitor to me.

    February 18, 2011 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  5. Dante

    Lots of fools posting here. Republicans want to ban procedures like hers that save lives. You might say it doesn't count as an abortion, but that doesn't matter, Republicans want to ban those types of procedures whether the baby is already lost or not. I think most conservatives posting here would change their tune when they realized how many complications make abortion procedures absolutely necessary.

    Remember all that crap about late term abortion procedures? That stopped doctors from performing something that saved lives – women that want abortions didn't use that procedure anyway.

    February 18, 2011 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    She didn't have a D and E, she had a D and C (dilation and curettage). And the baby doesn't move from the vagina into the cervix, it moves from the cervix (the opening in the uterus) into the vagina (birth canal). Are you kidding me? So grown men and women in this country really have no idea about the female anatomy and they are speaking on a national stage? Perhaps we need to have a brush up course on basic anatomy for the people making our laws and running our country.
    This is one of the most ridiculous articles that I've ever read and I am pro-choice, have had 5 children, and lost a triplet. Until the people making the laws in this country and the people reporting on it get a clue, I am worried that basic health care for women is truly in danger.

    February 18, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. ieat

    Planned parenthood is also a great place for young woman with no insurance to get regular checkups. After college before I started working, meaning no insurance, I went to a nearby Planned parenthood for regular checkup. It's a lot more than just abortions.

    February 18, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  8. Tim

    For all those who are saying that this is a "woman's debate, not a man's" I respectfully disagree. The child is just as much the fathers as it is the mothers. Although we do not carry the child during pregnancy, the unborn is still our flesh and we should have every right to participate in this discussion. An abortion can be a very traumatizing decision and experience for a man as well. Do not tell us that we do not understand.

    February 18, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  9. LEB

    I pretty much all states, abortion is illegal past 24 weeks except for in instances of medical necessity. The Congresswoman was at only 17 weeks, but the D&E procedure was presumably the best and safest option by her doctor's judgment. Even though the procedure was technically an abortion, I can see why she would choose to see it as a miscarriage because her pregnancy result in an abnormality that was dangerous for her and made it impossible for the baby to properly develop. I can only imagine how difficult that experience must have been, to have to terminate a pregnancy of a baby she wanted.

    February 18, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  10. kt

    basically, the people who don't like planned parenthood are the people who don't understand how planned parenthood works. when I didnt have health insurance, PP provided me with affordable reproductive healthcare. I feel bad for people that might not have access to this because your religious "values" get in the way. although I'm not sure why anyone's religion would discourage women from getting pap smears, something that very much so is a literal lifesaver.

    February 18, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  11. Marcus

    Basic Human Anatomy and fred – congrats for the attack on Science, 'geniuses'.
    Read the article, 'MDs', a Republican qwas talking about the procedure known as 'D & E' and was making it look like (as all 'pro-lifes' does) that it was no big deal for the women who went through it (but of course for the fetus...).
    Jackie Speier, who underwent the procedure due to medical conditions (miscarriage, the fetus died and had to be removed or she'd bleed to death) and thus could tell him what exactly is goes through it.
    So read the story, completely, before showing your low IQs...

    February 18, 2011 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  12. Dante

    She doesn't consider it an abortion because conservatives have done everything they can to vilify the very word. They paint a picture of abortion being an evil service where women are choosing to murder babies. She didn't want to lose the baby so she is using the term miscarriage. I can't blame her for not wanting to associate with the word abortion after the word has been dragged through the mud.

    February 18, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  13. in the know

    She was less than truthful I think about this procedure. It sounds like she terminated the pregnancy while the child was still living because it could not survive; however,her description was less than medically correct. It shows that she too is rather incompetent in describing medical procedures such as abortion and D and E . It is a miscarriage if the child is no longer living...it is a termination if it was living. She is deliberately being vague about whether it was a living child that "could not survive." She can call it a miscarriage if she wants, but if she terminated the pregnancy before the baby died, it was a medical TERMINATION of her preborn baby. She is using emotions to get away with twisting her words and terms. I'm sorry for her loss, but aggravated by her use of her experience when she will only be vague about what she actually went through. She sounds medically naive which also doesn't help her case.

    February 18, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  14. KAYAK

    Seems like the rift between North and South is still alive and well. I'm all for letting the Southern inbreds secede and go their merry way into third world oblivion. GOOD RIDANCE.

    February 18, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  15. DianeM

    @MJ, you obviously know nothing about planned parenthood. Not everyone who walks through the door there is looking for an abortion. They provide many other VITAL services.

    February 18, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  16. sammieb51

    I say we ban viagra or at least make the recipients that buy it sign a paper at the pharmacy that says they are using this pill with their spouse and that they have a medical condition that requires them to use it. I say we ban vascetomys, isn't that killing a kid too?

    February 18, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  17. francois

    Hello there @AnnieAtlanta! I believe that the life in the womb is a live with value. I cannot and would not take steps to control the choice of the woman to kill her unborn child, nor would I give her money to undergo the procedure, were she to ask me fore it. Unfortunately, I don't have that choice, because the Federal Govt. takes my money every paycheck and sends some of it to Planned Parenthood, wholly against my desires and wishes. So to that I say, defund Planned Parenthood.

    February 18, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  18. Guest

    Yes, she should correct that "vagina" statement. Typical of a politician, always has it wrong.

    February 18, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  19. John - IL

    Plain and simple Planned Parenthood are guilty of murder, and for any politician that supports Planned Parenthood, they to are just as guilty of murder and will one day be judged for it!

    February 18, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  20. Robin, California

    It seems that when the right wing wants to beat us over the head with their hypocritcal morality they go to the budget and when that doesn't work they go to God. As a woman, as a liberal woman with two beautiful sons and a gorgeous grandson I totally support Planned Parenthood and the right of a woman to have control of her own body. What the right can't seem to do is separate religious choice and personal freedom. I just wonder about all those babies that are born to those who do not want them, or are not ready for them; where are the right wing people lining up to adopt them? They want unwanted children to be born, but then they don't want to support them either financially, emotionally or religiously. I applaud Senator Speer for speaking out for women...as only a woman can.

    February 18, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  21. kdf

    If something has a heart beat... it is a live and should be considered a child from that moment. For those who have no choice but to end a pregnancy due to medical reasons is one thing, but what they are trying to prevent are those irresponsible, I can stick it to the system people who use it as their way of birth control. This is very much the case for many... I will never forget being with a friend during a horrific time in her life and while waiting in the waiting room I hear one woman say to another who is looking at her ultra sound picture... "dont feel bad, its no big deal... this is my 7th time". WHAT?! With soooo many people who what a child so very badly and can not, it discusses me that too many take it for granted and think that a living being can so easly just be tossed in the trash. There are other options... USE THEM!

    February 18, 2011 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  22. Josh

    The choices here are quite clear.

    A: Make abortions illegal, thus flooding the foster care system with children of teen moms and rape victims who are legitimately incapable of raising said children.
    B: Make it up to the pregnant women, and We the People foot the bill.

    Choice B seems more logical to me, spend a couple thousand in taxpayer dollars (if the procedure even costs that much, I don't know what those particular numbers are), or spend tens of thousands in taxpayer dollars raising orphans in foster care, who will then go on to possibly repeat the cycle, thus creating more foster children, until the Republican thugs realize "oh, well, now foster care is too much of a burden on the taxpayers, so let's get rid of that too". Then we'd have millions of CHILDREN on the street, homeless with no parents and no way of earning money to feed themselves.

    February 18, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  23. Lynn Hall

    She might be stupid.Maybe she meant an etopic pregnancy. Maybe the fetus was already dead.Then it wouldnt be considered an abortion. I may be stupid because I dont recall fertilized eggs growing in the vagina.Maybe I was sleeping during Health class or Biology 1&2.She was brave to share her pain but is a bit confused about where babies come from.I always liked the idea of a stork.They are such lovely birds.

    February 18, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  24. Bill

    THe GOP and its ideological follwers make me want to puke. Get over it. You do not want the government in your health care but you think the government should have the right to tell women what to do with their bodies. You people need help.

    February 18, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. Hilo, HI

    I'd rather my tax dollars fund abortions than the life-long problems that go with unwanted children.

    America is crushing under that weight, from foster care to violent crime.
    The anti-abortion groups rally on like unwanted pregnancies that aren't terminated would produce happy, productive individuals. Though the cold hard facts show just the opposite.

    I'll bet someone claiming to have decided against an abortion will blog now that they're glad they didn't do it, it all worked out in the end, and everyone should follow suit. If so, they'd still be the exception.

    February 18, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
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