Planned Parenthood debate takes personal turn
February 18th, 2011
03:04 PM ET
12 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. RB

    Sorry MJ,

    Apparently you have never been to a Planned Parenthood ever. As a teenager, I accompanied friends there to get birth control that they were too afraid to ask their parents for. They provide information about safe sex as well as abstinence. Abortion is one option for these girls, and many choose not to go through it after the unbiased counseling. They certainly are not forcing anyone there. Maybe you should check out a hospital clinic that accepts public aid patients. Who for some reason cannot afford any type of health insurance but smoke, drink, have iPhones, and carry designer bags to see where the REAL money is being wasted.

    February 18, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  2. cel

    Religious nuts will try to do anythingto prevent women from having any procedure that is against the religious nuts beliefs and they will try to use the Federal government to do it. But when the Federal government wants to limit the rights of the religious nuts, look out, they go hollering about government intrusion and a NANNY GOVERNMENT. Teh religious nuts want to end separation of church and state except when it benefits them to have it separate. Right now, churches are relatively tax free and mst ministers do not pay income taxes or social security, but if they did, religious nits would be yelling in favor of separation of church and state. LET"S TAX THEM AND GET A SHARE OF ALL THOSe TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

    February 18, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  3. KAYAK

    Too many babies. .Too many people!!! We need to crank up the abortion mill to start reigning in the Human Race. !!!

    February 18, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  4. Brandi

    Well said Annie from Atlanta. If someone wants to have an abortion that is there business, if u don't want to have one then don't. Planned Parenthood is a much needed service most go here for check ups, birth control, std testing, etc its not all about abortion

    February 18, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  5. JJ

    If you want an abortion and you pay for it great! If you expect the government to pay for it – learn abstinence!

    February 18, 2011 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    MJ: Abortion is NOT what Planned Parenthood makes most of its money on. Like many women just starting their careers (or those with low incomes), when I was younger and didn't have good health coverage, I went to Planned Parenthood for my annual gynecological exam.

    This was imperative for me to do, given the fact that my maternal grandmother died of cervical cancer and my mother at 45 had a full hysterectomy due to a diagnosis of pre-cervical cancer. Planned Parenthood provided me with an affordable way to have my annual exam – and good thing, too. When I was 28, I had an abnormal PAP, with a diagnosis that, if left untreated, would have progressed to cancer.

    If I hadn't had access to Planned Parenthood, which performed my exam and follow-up confirmation exam, I may never have known about my diagnosis until it was too late. As it was, I ended up having both cervical cryotherapy and then laser cervical surgery. Fortunately, all of my exams since then have been normal.

    It's these kinds of services Planned Parenthood provides to low-income women that are essential – and why Planned Parenthood deserves our financial support.

    February 18, 2011 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  7. epdemer

    The issue here is about federal funding–your tax dollars and mine–being used for services that many people in this nation object to. In one respect, it is the same as those who cried out against tax money being spent on wars in the Middle East. Because these are OUR tax dollars–OUR hard-earned money–we have the right to speak out about how it is used. You are certainly welcome to your opinions, as am I, but to simply say that people should not be allowed to speak out about this issue is plainly closed-minded.

    So, we will never all agree on this issue–is that really the problem? Or, should we be more concerned with the heavy debt our nation owes to China because of the immense amounts of spending we have done over the past 20 years, especially? Let's all take a deep breath, understand that many favored programs on both sides of the aisle need to be cut, and start living within our means as a nation. Yes, it takes courage and struggle to get us back on firm financial standing as a nation. Many of us have had to do the same as hard-working Americans (even those of us who have suffered with periods of unemployment).

    I was in so over my head 15 years ago that I thought about simply declaring bankruptcy and starting over. I figured since my financial standing and credit rating were already ruined, the bankruptcy wouldn't hurt any more. But, instead, I decided to take a different route. I cut up all of my credit cards, got a debit card for my checking account, and determined where I needed to cut my own spending. Now, 15 years later, I have paid down nearly all of my debt...except for a car loan I had to take out a couple of years ago when my car was totalled, and two small-balance credit cards. How did I get my financial life back in check? By be strategic about my spending–making sure that I didn't spend more than I made (or had in the bank account, since for most of that period I only had my debit card to work with).

    If honest, hard-working Americans can learn to tighten their belts to get their personal finances in order, than surely so can Congress. And, honestly, we should be applauding them for the cuts they have already made, and continue to pressure them to make more cuts to get the budget in line and reduce the federal deficit.

    If Congress can't get control of federal spending....well, we all might want to start taking lessons to learn Chinese...

    February 18, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  8. db

    Republicans don't get it. They were elected to fix the economy...not to legislate morality. If they keep this up independents will vote.them out as quickly as they voted them in.

    February 18, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  9. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Yet the job killing republicans are happy to have killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians in the Bush/republican unfunded Iraq war.

    February 18, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
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