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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D), COLORADO: So, Chris, just at the time when Americans care about jobs and the economy, the Republican leadership in the House has made one of their first three bills to be a bill that says to women, you now can"t buy abortion coverage, you can"t buy full reproductive coverage in these health exchanges, or even in the private insurance market. This is an extreme and divisive bill that goes so far behind what we"ve ever seen before.

It would basically say people can"t get tax credits if they offer health policies that give full reproductive services. So, it would--it would--it would reduce people"s rights to health care and it would actually raise taxes.

Why are they doing this? I think it shows their true colors, which is they"re trying to cater to the far right.

MATTHEWS: What would happen if this were to be law? I don"t know if it would pass the Constitution in terms of the Supreme Court, but if you were able to say you can"t buy health insurance that includes coverage for abortion, even if it"s your own money or whatever, because we don"t want you to, therefore, we"re going to outlaw it. But would that mean the insurance companies would just stop providing that kind of coverage? What will be the effect do you think?

DEGETTE: Right. Here"s what would happen, Chris, is right now, employers and some employees get tax deductions or tax credits for offering insurance to their employee. These insurance policies give a full range of reproductive care for women. So under the bill, even those companies and the new companies coming in, if they wanted to offer pre-reproductive care, they couldn"t get a tax credit.

MATTHEWS: OK.

DEGETTE: What that would mean would be that insurance companies would just simply stop offering insurance policies that covered abortion--

MATTHEWS: I get it.

DEGETTE: -- and other kinds of reproductive services (ph).

MATTHEWS: I think every woman out there knows exactly what we"re talking about.

DEGETTE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Let"s talk about this thing, 358, the other bill that"s about--you know, if you--a woman is in a car accident.

DEGETTE: Right.

MATTHEWS: She"s pregnant. She"s, say, eight months pregnant, seven months pregnant. The doctors decide that her life is in danger if they continue with the pregnancy. These cases fortunately on our life don"t happen that often, but when they do, the hospitals are--under current law, I"m told--required whether they"re Catholic or whatever, they have to perform the surgery.

Now, what would this new legislation do?

DEGETTE: Well, you know, both of these bills are absolute riddled with little landmines like this. They redefine rape to be forcible rape, they redefine incest, and the one you"re talking about says that if a woman comes into a hospital, a pregnant woman, and she would die if she didn"t have an abortion, if the hospital or the doctors are against it for reasons of conscience, then they wouldn"t have to save the mother"s life.

I mean, that"s just appalling to people and is of quite concern.

MATTHEWS: Is this--look, I"m with you on this issue because I think a woman in that kind of situation should be protected. Her rights to live should be protected.

DEGETTE: Right. Right.

MATTHEWS: But don"t most hospitals--aren"t all hospitals required to give that kind of emergency treatment right now? No matter what the hospital"s religion.

DEGETTE: You know, I believe in a Conscience Clause. I think it"s important. But under current law, if a woman comes in and she"s going to die if she doesn"t have the medical service, then they have to provide that have medical service. This new legislation would eliminate that law. So, it would now say--

MATTHEWS: Well, why would someone want to do that?

DEGETTE: Because they don"t value the life of the mother. That"s why. I mean, it"s--

MATTHEWS: So, let"s get back to reality here. I know the Republicans, Chris Smith--I respect the guy, disagree with him on the way in which he goes about these things--I do as a Roman Catholic respect life. I accept that as a teaching authority of my church.

When it comes to the Constitution, I think we can read the Constitution as it"s been interpreted by the Supreme Court, it is, in fact, the law of the land. We live in a society that"s run by law. You can change it if you want, but you"ve got to do it a different way than this.

It seems to me what they"re trying to do, Congresswoman, is get around the rights issue by making it just so darn difficult and finding these marginal ways to deny the opportunity, which should come with the right under the Constitution.

DEGETTE: Right. We had hearings both in the judiciary and in the House subcommittees today and yesterday, and basically, some of the witnesses for the proponents of the bill said their goal is to eliminate abortions in this country completely except for, in most circumstances, I guess, the life of the mother. And that"s their real goal.

So, they figure if they can"t do it through the courts, then what they"ll do is they"ll make it virtually impossible for anybody to get full reproductive services. As I said, it"s really extreme. And by the way, Chris--by the way, next week, they"re planning to have a vote to eliminate the family planning money that goes to many organizations.

MATTHEWS: I know, I heard about that.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think the Senate is going to fight this.

Anyway, thank you, U.S. Congresswoman Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado.

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