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Joining us now is Congresswoman Diana DeGette. She is a Democrat of Colorado. She`s the co-chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus.
Congresswoman DeGette, it`s good to see you again. Thank you for being here.
REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D), COLORADO: It`s good to be back with you, Rachel. I`m also the top ranking Democrat on Cliff Stearns` subcommittee. So, I`ve been involved with that issue since day one.
MADDOW: Well, how do you all get along, you and Mr. Stearns?
DEGETTE: We get along OK, but, you know, you talk about -- you talk about the wires lighting up. My Web site DeGette.com had eight times more hits than we have had on anything else yesterday.
People are mad. And the reason they`re mad is because people support breast cancer research and people support Planned Parenthood, which was getting all of this money from the Komen Foundation to do breast cancer screening. And so -- and people just can`t believe it. They feel really feel betrayed. And I`m hearing that outrage from everybody including my own daughters.
MADDOW: Is it striking to you, though, after this year of just decimating attacks on Planned Parenthood, not only in state legislatures, but in Congress, it becoming a real priority for Congress? They were going
to -- Republicans in the House were going to shut down the federal government over their efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, after all of these attacks, this seems to be the one that is really grabbed everybody`s
DEGETTE: I`ve got to tell you, I`ve been shaking my head because -- because you would attack an organization, 97 percent of what they do is well woman care. And I think what you have here is you have a
juxtaposition of women across America who have used Planned Parenthood for their breast cancer screening, for their cervical cancer screening, for their well woman visits and then you have the Susan G. Komen foundation which everybody has supported because they are opposing breast cancer.
Suddenly, it feels to people like they have turned in a very bad way against women`s health and I think that`s what`s making people so upset, they just can`t understand why Komen would be turning against Planned Parenthood. They feel like, you know, Planned Parenthood does breast cancer screening and that`s what the Komen Foundation is all about.
So why wouldn`t they be supporting Planned Parenthood? I think -- I think the patients, the women of America almost feel like it is a betrayal, that`s the sense I`m getting.
MADDOW: When Congressman Stearns opened this investigation of Planned Parenthood, that now has been used essentially as the excuse for Komen to go after them --
MADDOW: You wrote them a letter and you said, "We question the basis for the investigation and whether Planned Parenthood is being singled out as part of a Republican vendetta."
MADDOW: Do we think the Republican opposition to Planned Parenthood is just with Planned Parenthood or is it more general than that?
DEGETTE: Well, I think there really is a vendetta against Planned Parenthood. But there`s also a vendetta against women`s health in general. Any organization like Planned Parenthood that does a full range of women`s reproductive care, you know, Planned Parenthood does a small amount of abortions with their own private dollars.
Most of what they do, 97 percent of what they do is other kinds of women`s health care. People have gone after them. The Republicans have gone after them. And the thing that I think is really unfair is the Komen
Foundation is acting like there has been some kind of magical opening of an investigation which is ongoing.
It`s been six months since Chairman Stearns sent out his letter, and Planned Parenthood, from my understanding, complied with that, even though it was really broad. They sent in all of the evidence showing there is no federal funding spent on abortions at Planned Parenthood, all of their federal funding is spent on well women care.
And so, nothing has happened and nothing has happened since September.
Now, suddenly, in February, we have the Komen Foundation saying they`re not going to give money for breast cancer screening. I mean, it is just puzzling to everybody.
MADDOW: Does it seem to you that the Komen Foundation is sort of under the spell of the people who are orchestrating the broader attacks on Planned Parenthood? Have they been brought into this as part of the same attack?
DEGETTE: I can`t think of any other reason why suddenly the Komen Foundation would withdraw money for breast cancer screening from Planned Parenthood if it weren`t because of influence from the extreme right, saying, you can`t fund an organization that with its own money funds a full range of reproductive care. I can`t think of why else they would do it.
MADDOW: This past year, all of this time since the 2010 elections, it is still undercovered nationally, but it has been a remarkable year, 18 months, for the anti-abortion movement. They have not only advanced a
record number of anti-abortion measures at the state level, they have not only prioritized this nationally almost above all other issues in the House -- in the Republican-controlled House, but they have been able to really change the framing of women`s health issues so that even contraception now is something about which all of the presidential candidates, the Republican presidential candidates are saying is a problem. They`ve all come out to some extent against birth control in running for president.
How did -- how did we get back to contraception as a contested issue?
DEGETTE: Yes, here we are in the 21st century, it`s 2012, in case anybody wanted to know, and we`re arguing about reproductive care and contraception. I mean, I`m the co-chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus, as you said. Before, we were arguing about abortion. Now, suddenly, we`re even arguing about whether a woman has a right to family planning.
And, of course, if you have full contraception in family planning, then you reduce the number of abortions, which is everybody`s goal.
And so, you know, I`m happy to debate anybody at any time about should we have birth control and contraception. I think that`s what you`ve been seeing in the last few days is the American public is waking up and saying, wait a minute, now you`re saying we can`t from breast cancer screening because an organization with its own private money gives a full range of reproductive care? That`s really crazy.
I think finally the American public is saying, everybody agrees we should have pregnancy prevention and family planning and breast cancer screening. And what is this war against women`s health that we have going on?
MADDOW: Congresswoman Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado, co-chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus -- thank you for helping us try to understand this. I profess to be as bewildered by this as you are. But thank you for helping us get through it. Thank you.
DEGETTE: Yes, stay tuned.
MADDOW: Yes, seriously. Thank you.
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