Courage under fire

Even as one of the biggest Uterus Politics battles over women’s reproductive freedom plays out in the House, I am moved by California’s Rep. Jackie Speier. During debate over an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood (a vote is scheduled Friday) — by barring the agency from receiving federal Title X funds which are designated for family planning services — Speier announced that she had an abortion.

After hours of heated debate on Thursday about abortions — which are already not funded by Title X — it was obvious that Indiana Rep. Mike Pence’s bill was nothing more than a witch hunt against Planned Parenthood. Ironically, of all the services the organization provides, only 3% were for abortions, according to their 2008/2009 annual report (most recent year available). In fact, 35% of their services for that year were for contraception — something directly covered by Title X funding. (Another 34% of their services were for STD screening. Meanwhile, 17% were for cancer screenings.)

As reported in the Washington Post:

“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,” Speier said to Smith as the rest of the chamber stood silent.

Rep. Speier, I am moved by your honesty and your strength to fight for women’s reproductive freedom. Thank you!

Indeed, this is the spirit of the much-talked-about #Ihadanabortion consciousness-raising on twitter started by @IAmDrTiller (aka Steph Herold). The idea is that we must remove the stigma of abortion. It is a legal (for now) medical procedure. The #Ihadanabortion hash tag was meant to give a voice to the stories of women and liberate them from the shame that society and anti-choice proponents want to put on the experience.

I do not know if any other major elected official has ever publicly announced that she had an abortion. But I dare say that Speier is a rare breed in American politics.

** If you are reading this before the vote: Please call your representative! PP has made it very easy with this handy link! **

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