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

    If it was a miscarriage she could have gone to any hospital, even if abortion was banned, and have the procedure. Planned Parenthood was not needed for that. Next case.

    February 18, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  2. Indie Woman in Denver

    Thank you, Rep Speier, for speaking the truth in the face of those who will do anything to force all Americans to live according to their religious beliefs.

    February 18, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  3. informed voter

    "I will always stand up for women's health and reproductive rights," Rep. Jackie Speier said. I say bravo to her for her brave testimony. It is not for the government to decide what is best for a woman and her body! I abhor war and don't want my tax dollars supporting America's imperialistic invasions, but I have no choice. Providing women with proper health care is something that should be supported by our government. We will not go back to the days of back alley abortions. Keep your religious views out of my uterus! And if you don't want your tax dollars to pay for women's health, I don't want my tax dollars paying for wars!!

    February 18, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  4. die die

    Thank you for shutting that man up, Jackie Speier, and for standing up for us women.

    February 18, 2011 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  5. BostonBill

    I understand that her comment was almost impulsive but I admire her courage. If the far right takes issue with this woman, we'll know how short sighted they really are.

    February 18, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  6. John N Florida

    This just goes to prove MEN should not be allowed to even vote on these bills. They have no idea and, obviously, no personal experience on which to arrive at an informed decision.

    February 18, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. Jessica

    Ms. Speier, you are my hero. Unfortunately these Repubs are waging a war on us and the results of their actions be dammed. Thanks for putting a face to this issue.

    February 18, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  8. CutTax

    stop kill american kids

    February 18, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  9. Awomanspointofview

    I think it's difficult for a man to understand what a woman goes through with things like this and men shouldn't even be allowed in the debate. A woman's body and the things that go on within it, should be a woman's debate, not a man's.

    February 18, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  10. The unsub

    hooray for Speier!

    February 18, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  11. Basic Human Anatomy

    "...moved from the vagina into the cervix," Sounds to me like Speir doesn't know much about the procedure either. Or human anatomy for that matter. I'm just so thrilled that people who have no real knowledge of these (read: any) matters are writing policy (and I'm refering to ALL politicians not just the left or right). Reminds me of the time they brought in a naval expert, when debating a planned naval base, and Rep. Gaffe was worried about Guam (the island) capsizing.

    February 18, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  12. MBG

    Wow....she is a brave woman.

    February 18, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  13. Doug

    Do us all a favor and close them completley

    February 18, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  14. Maria, MD

    If you want to see how warm hearted liberals are, then just watch
    Justin Beiber's career tank after he said to Rolling Stone he didn't believe
    in abortions. Then you will see the real face of the liberal pro-abortionists
    in America. He will be shunned by the talk shows and probably be seen
    less and less. The new FREE America will destroy him with the help of the
    liberal media. Barbara WaWa on the view has already said he feels the way he
    does because he still has "a developing mind." What a crock that is.
    Freedom of speech for liberals only is the new America.

    February 18, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  15. peace

    Jackie we need more women like you to stand up for the women that don"t have a voice. I wish that pence wife or daughter would go though the same thing you had to go though and their life depend on abortion they would have one in a heart beat.

    February 18, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  16. Dante


    This is exactly why we need a better gender balance in Washington.

    February 18, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  17. Chas in Iowa

    My mother used to work for planned parenthood tas an advisor to pregnant women about the opportunities available for adoption. Peopl think planned parenthood is an abortion clinic, it is not. It is a place where women can get all the options available to them to make an informed decision about their pregnancy.

    February 18, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  18. fred

    Is she stupid??? "The baby moved from the vagina to the cervix." Babies will develop in the UTERUS not the vsgina. Any way you slice it, it's an abortion.

    February 18, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  19. Mani Achanta

    I think this should be a women only discussion. If there were to be a vote, it should be in which only women should have a voice.

    February 18, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  20. DianeM

    Thank you Jackie Speier for being a courageous woman. Sharing your story lends a healthy dose of reality to this debate, especially for those who can only see in black and white. Your story highlights one of the many reasons that the government have NO business interfering in the PRIVATE medical and family planning decisions of any human being and her or his family.

    February 18, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  21. Amy

    Moved from the vagina into the cervix? The baby was going inwards, then? Surely she meant the baby was going from the uterus to the cervix...

    February 18, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  22. Chipster

    So many people are completely ignorant of the many tragic situations that women face and the difficult decisions they must make in those situations. What gives anyone the right to dictate personal medical decisions from someone else? To quote Michele Bachmann, "..under no certain circumstances will I give the government control over my body and my health care decisions.”

    The arrogance of claiming the right to dictate choices to others while demanding her right to make her own..... what a fool!

    February 18, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  23. Waddell

    Bless you Rep. Speier for sharing what must have been a frightening, heartwrenching experience for you and your family. I am so sorry for your loss. You are a woman of courage and conviction. Lawmakers must stay out of women's personal matters. They have no right to trespass on such privacies. Hopefully, you will make a difference.

    February 18, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  24. CSMinDC

    Fred, I agree. I don't understand the "they had to end" in this sentence:

    "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."

    That's an abortion, not a miscarriage.

    February 18, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  25. Waddell

    What a pompous statement by this "fred". My advice: Respect a woman's right to privacy. BUTT OUT.

    February 18, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
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