Congresswomen Try to Save Planned Parenthood With Honesty, True Stories, Facts

In the heated House debate yesterday on a proposal to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding for women’s health and sex education services, one speech stood out. California representative Jackie Speier said she would abandon her prepared remarks because “my stomach is in knots.” Then she told the world about her own abortion.

In her case, it was a wanted pregnancy she had to terminate because of complicated. “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.” She then went on to say that Republicans were wasting the time of Americans, who are primarily concerned with jobs and not with what is, last time we all checked, a legal procedure. There’s no other way to say it: She kicked ass. (Also, just hearing the word vagina on the House floor is excitement enough.)

Meanwhile, Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin showed yet another reason why it’s important to elect women and people of color — the prospect of a bunch of old white guys standing around talking about black women’s fertility and alleged genocide. After Rep. Paul Brown said (falsely) that clinics target neighborhoods where people of color live and that “more black babies are killed” by Planned Parenthood, Moore replied, “I know all about black babies. I’ve had three of them. I had the first one at the ripe old age of 18.” She knows something else, too: Republicans’ policies show “utter contempt for poor women and poor children.” (The anti-abortion site LifeNews took aim at Moore for going “as far as implying that it is better to have an abortion than make a child be forced to live ‘eating Ramen noodles’ and ‘mayonnaise sandwiches.'” Food lobbyists can’t be pleased either.)

The idea of cutting Title X funding, which provides $317 million to family planning services that includes Planned Parenthood, is sufficiently radical enough that the Times ended its piece with this uncharacteristically pointed kicker:

In an e-mailed response, Lila Rose, the president of Live Action, said the answer was not to support a group that, in her words, helps sex traffickers. But she did not suggest how Planned Parenthood’s birth control services could be replaced.

This is one of those true colors moments, where it becomes clear that this isn’t really about abortion alone, but is about a deep-seated opposition even to birth control and safe sex.


By Irin Carmon, originally published on Jezebel. Republished WITH PERMISSION MOTHERF*CKERS.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Jezebel has written 38 articles for us.


  1. I am so upset about this. I checked out Jezebel while the kids were watching a movie at school, & I started to cry. Why does our government hate women so much? Why? I already called my representative twice, but he is a pro-choice candidate anyway. Can I call other representatives? Can I just say “Hi, I am a woman, & like many other women, I need Planned Parenthood,”?

    I want to fuck some shit up. This is not okay.

  2. I am bewildered by the appearance of one of those “And I’m a Mormon” ads over to the right on this article.

    Not quite hitting their target market…? Not that there aren’t any queer mormons or anything, but you’re sure as hell never going to see one in one of those ads.

    Anyway, just wrote my Rep to complain about this defunding business. He consistently votes anti-choice on these matters, but hopefully some more voices will at least make him hesitate. Already wrote my senators but Al Franken is the queer-friendliest straight white male politician I know, so thankfully doesn’t need a lot of convincing.

  3. You can call whomever you’d like, although many offices aren’t as willing to listen if you aren’t a constituent in their district. You can reach out to people you know who live in other districts who aren’t so affirming. The full roll call for the vote isn’t yet available, but you can often guess, of course, from their voting records on other issues.

    A couple of things you can highlight–

    Planned Parenthood does not offer abortion services, but counseling and referrals to providers who can. What planned Parenthood does is offer preventive services– protection, birth control, medical screenings– and education to empower people to stay safe.

    We can only imagine the horrors of a world where women must risk life or health to make a choice that is only theirs to make. But PP is just as vital to the LGBTQ community– their work in prevention, education and free testing to combat STIs is vital. As a programs staff person at an LGBTQ community center in a rural area, I can attest that without Planned Parenthood there are many people who would not be able– or feel safe enough– to get testing and protection; to be educated, healthy and safe.

    And don’t forget that for six out of ten women treated by a doctor or nurse in a PP clinic, that provider is their primary source of medical care. Sixty percent! Read the press release on PP’s website for more stats like this one.

    This bill is not about Federal funding of abortions. That has been prevented by Federal law since 1974. No, this bill is about killing Planned Parenthood, full and all, in spite of the wonderful, so-needed work that it does. That it’s unlikely to pass through the Senate should not diminish the weight of the House’s collective action. As women, queer women, it hits us where we live.

    A lot of people are misinformed about PP and about this issue. As we reach out to our representatives and senators, let’s also take this opportunity to help educate our neighbors. By coming out in support of PP and the work that it does, we can help to change people’s opinions and beliefs, hearts and minds. If we do that, we build a groundwork of support for policy changes, and we build a society that we’d all rather live in.

    Good luck and goodspeed!

  4. Ok I feel like an idiot for asking this, and I have so much respect for Jackie Spier for saying what she did, but what did she mean about the baby moving from her vagina to her cervix? Babies aren’t supposed to exist in the vagina in the first place, are they? Once again I am feeling totally clueless about the reproductive system, thanks Coach Johnson (my high school sex ed. teacher).

    • I was puzzled by that, too! I think she may have meant from her uterus to her cervix? Easy to misspeak when 1) you are a politician, not a women’s health specialist and 2) you are on your feet in front of the House and the country talking about your abortion and how you fear that the right to have one may be taken away.

      • Okay because that’s what I was thinking too! Yeah those are all totally valid reasons to mis-speak. I sure would. I also wondered if she said it like that because a lot of people don’t know female anatomy very well and maybe she thought “vagina” would make more sense to them than “uterus?” I mean I doubt that the folks who are trying to cut funding for Planned Parenthood are experts on that kind of stuff.

        • lol! That’s a good point. It makes sense that the people who don’t know a damned thing about women are the ones trying to get rid of things like Planned Parenthood =/

          • Good points… I am sad to think that people (media, anti-planned parenthood idiots) will focus on her use of anatomy terms rather than the message she was sending.

Comments are closed.