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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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Date:
Location: Unknown

So, here we go. Let`s take the two -- talk to two congressmen on both
sides of the bill. We have got Cliff Stearns of Florida, who voted for it,
and we have Donna Edwards of Maryland, who voted against it.
I want Mr. Sterns to make the case.

What community in this country is engaged right now in gender
selection in terms of abortion?

REP. CLIFF STEARNS (R), FLORIDA: Well, it`s across the United States.

Dr. Puri of the University of California has shown through evidence by
interviewing women from 2004 to 2009 that a lot of them made this decision
based upon sex selection.

MATTHEWS: Which community, though? Which community is it?

STEARNS: Well, the immigrant community is one of the large ones that
he looked at because of that problem.

MATTHEWS: Is anyone else involved in this, to your knowledge, besides
Asian women who come to the United States who have that culture they bring
with them that prefers boy children? Does anyone else -- do you have any
evidence beyond that community of this practice?

STEARNS: Well, let me -- you talk about the...

MATTHEWS: No, I want the answer to that question.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Do you have any evidence beyond that community?

STEARNS: Yes.

The National Academy of Science has done a study from the last census
in this country. And they found, statistically, there`s a deviation that
shows more of these abortions occur and that there is sex selection.
So I think, if the National Academy of Science shows that evidence
pretty strongly, I think that`s a testament to the facts.

MATTHEWS: But you don`t have any evidence of cases. In other words,
if you were going to go to court, you wouldn`t have cases, would you?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: In other words, you`re talking about a law here. My
problem is this. You don`t want to punish the woman. You want to punish
the doctor.

But in this case, a woman could -- if she did have this intention
because of her background or values or whatever they are -- and I`m
certainly not for them -- if there was such a case, she would simply go
from doctor to doctor who wouldn`t ask her the question and she`d proceed
with the abortion.

So what do you accomplish with this law? It couldn`t be enforced.

STEARNS: Well, I will tell you what you accomplish, Chris. There`s
one thing you`re missing.

This same law has been passed in all the Western civilization
countries, including Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Sweden,
Norway. I can go on.

In fact, when you go to the Asian community, it`s banned in China,
it`s banned in Singapore, it`s banned in Thailand. I mean, all these
countries have banned it. So to think that the Democrats voted against a
bill that was prevalent in all these countries, both in the European
community, as well as the Asian community, is -- really flabbergasts all of
us.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, they don`t ban abortion in China. Let`s get
that straight.

REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Chris...

(CROSSTALK)

STEARNS: No, they don`t ban -- but they ban sex selection.

MATTHEWS: You`re only allowed to have like one kid.

STEARNS: Yes, they ban sex selection.

MATTHEWS: Yes. OK.

Let me go. I think this -- I think you guy are sporting for trouble
here, because I think this is about one community. And I don`t certainly
like what I see in that community, if they do this, and the evidence shows
they did. But the idea -- first of all, I don`t know who is against having
girl children.

STEARNS: Well...

MATTHEWS: I mean, I don`t even know who is out there. Who do you
know that doesn`t want to have a girl -- a grandchild or a daughter? Who`s
out there doing this?

STEARNS: Chris, the whole point of what your question is, why did we try
to pass this bill and we had 246 people that think it`s the right bill. I
thought we were talking about the bill. The bill is the same that`s passed
all through Europe, all through Asia.

Are you arguing against the bill yourself?

MATTHEWS: I know why you`re doing it. You`re doing it to try to
find moderate Republicans from swing districts you can nail.

STEARNS: No.

MATTHEWS: This is pure politics.

STEARNS: This is pure principle. And those people that voted
against this bill are -- woe to them because they`re immoral.

MATTHEWS: You see what he just did, woe to them. What are you,
Lincoln?

REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Woe to me, I voted against it.

STEARNS: I wish I was Lincoln. I wish I was Lincoln.

EDWARDS: The study he cites they interviewed 65 women out of
millions across this country, 65 women. And that`s the basis for national
policy here. I mean, this is really ridiculous.

This continues -- the Republicans on one hand don`t want us to say
there`s a war on women, yet every single week there`s some new measure to
ban abortion, to end family planning. They don`t want to provide for
family planning, but then they want to prevent so-called sex-based
abortions, finding a problem that really doesn`t exist in this country to
merit the level of national policy. This is really ridiculous.

STEARNS: Chris, can I answer that?

MATTHEWS: Sure, go ahead, sir.

STEARNS: First of all, the United Nations agrees with this bill. I
mean, Donna is saying this is a war on women. This is not a war on women.
In fact, the United States has said that you based abortions based upon sex
selection. That they said is a war on women.

EDWARDS: Cliff, you just agreed to end family planning for the work
that the United Nations is doing across the country. I mean, let`s stop
this already.

The Republicans every single week in this Congress, Chris, the
Republicans put forward yet another measure that says to women, you don`t
have privacy in the decisions with your doctors, we`re going to criminalize
the doctor, we`ll make doctors mind readers.

(CROSSTALK)

STEARNS: Let`s stay on the facts.

MATTHEWS: Let`s stay on the facts. I want to know your background
on this. If you could pass a law in this country to get a constitutional
amendment passed that banned abortion, would you do it?

STEARNS: Well, certainly.

MATTHEWS: Certainly, so you`re totally against a women`s right to
make a decision in this regard.

STEARNS: Well, I`m pro-life, that`s absolutely correct.

MATTHEWS: This is one way -- this is one step forward in terms of
your ultimate goal.

STEARNS: No, no, this is not talking about one step forward. This
is talking about basic moral values. Do you think it`s wrong to abort a
baby because she`s a female? And that`s a question that Donna has to ask
in her inner heart --

MATTHEWS: Well, if it`s morally wrong -- why don`t you punish the
woman?

STEARNS: We can punish the doctors.

MATTHEWS: Why not the women?

STEARNS: The way the bill is set up is the doctor has no right to
question the motivation of the girl.

(CROSSTALK)

EDWARDS: Because that`s not what this is about, that`s why. So you
punish the doctors, you ask the doctors to be mind readers, to sit and
figure out when a woman comes to the office --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What should be the punishment, sir? I had this with
people who say they are pro-life. I think we`re all pro-life.

STEARNS: Yes.

MATTHEWS: What should be the punishment for a woman who chooses to
have an abortion?

STEARNS: Well, I`m not talking about abortion.

MATTHEWS: Answer that question before we go on.

STEARNS: No, no, no, Chris.

MATTHEWS: You want to outlaw it, call it murder, use terms like
that. What should be a punishment for a woman who chooses -- goes to a
doctor, they don`t go door to door, she goes to the doctor and asks for
this procedure, what should be the punishment for that?

STEARNS: If we`re talking about abortion, we have the Hyde rule
which says you can have an abortion for incest, the life of the mother.

MATTHEWS: Go on.

STEARNS: And things like that and rape. So we already have that in
place. But the question is --

MATTHEWS: So, what should be the punishment for a woman who wants an
abortion because she doesn`t want to deliver the child, period? What
should be the punishment?

STEARNS: Let me ask you --

MATTHEWS: So, you don`t want to answer this, do you?

STEARNS: I want to ask you a question is --

MATTHEWS: No, I just ask the questions.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You want to outlaw abortion and you don`t want to do it
because you know deep down you know the average voter, even in your
district, which maybe conservative doesn`t believe the woman is guilty of a
murder, they really don`t think it should be a murder charge, they don`t
think it should be fineable, because deep down people are troubled by this
issue. It`s a difficult moral dilemma and that`s why we let the person
make the decision, it`s so difficult.

That`s why we don`t make all these laws that you want to pass. Why
don`t you let the women answer it?

STEARNS: It`s your show. Let me answer the question.

MATTHEWS: You won`t answer it.

STEARNS: I`ll answer the question the way I want. It might be your
show and you can do all the talking but I can answer the question the way I
want.

The question is: should there be a law preventing a woman making an
abortion based upon sex selection to eliminate female embryos. And that I
agree is wrong and I think you agree and Donna also agrees.

MATTHEWS: What should be the punishment for the woman doing that?

STEARNS: It should be against the law. Just like it`s against the
law in all of Europe --

MATTHEWS: What should be the punishment?

STEARNS: I think the punishment should certainly be very serious.

MATTHEWS: What should it be for the woman? What should it be for
the woman?

STEARNS: It should be more than a civil case. It should be
something very serious --

MATTHEWS: So, should it be a criminal matter for the woman as well
as the doctor?

STEARNS: I think so. You are killing an embryo and sometimes four
or five months into gestation --

MATTHEWS: Look, I agree with the value. I just think we get
involved in personal decisions here.

STEARNS: I understand. But you just said you agree with the bill.
You just said that.

MATTHEWS: No, I don`t believe in punishing people for having
abortions, unlike you. I couldn`t be more different.

STEARNS: But, Chris, you just said that you agree that sex selection
is bad --

MATTHEWS: Of course it is.

STEARNS: OK, that`s the bill we`re talking about, that`s the bill
that`s going to come back on the floor not under suspension.

MATTHEWS: Please come back.

STEARNS: All right.

MATTHEWS: You are a good sport even though I think you got to
rethink where the moral decision -- I think sometimes you guys on the far
right think women are incapable of a major decision like this, so you
punish the doctor who you presume is a male. I really think you got a
problem with this and you don`t want to admit that it`s a moral conflict
here. But that`s why we leave it in the hands of the woman because it is
so difficult.

Let me go back to Congresswoman Edwards. Let her speak on this.
That`s why we let the woman decide. It is so hard for anybody else to
decide.

EDWARDS: Of course. This is a really difficult decision. It really
needs to be between the doctor and the woman. We don`t need the government in the doctor`s office making those decisions.

MATTHEWS: Especially when they can`t handle the question like you
can.

EDWARDS: We don`t need to punish women. We can educate women about
sex abortion, but we don`t have to punish women or doctors.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much.

STEARNS: Can I have the last word? Can I have the last word?
MATTHEWS: Quickly.

STEARNS: The basic question is if all of Europe and most of Asia has
this same rule that you cannot have sex selection as an abortion, why can`t
we in the United States pass the same bill?

MATTHEWS: It`s always amazing when you guys on the right want to
import the values of other countries. Any time we do it, any time we do
it, any liberal tries to do it or a progressive tries to do it, you say
they`re bringing foreign values into this country.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


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