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Public Statements

Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Madam Speaker, I am pro-choice. But that is a question of deep conscience, religious conviction, and of personal importance to every individual and every family.

One of the great conservatives who has served in this institution was Henry Hyde. The Hyde amendment, which has been the law of the land since it was passed by Mr. Hyde, says that there shall not be public funds that are used to pay for abortions. That is true now. It has been true for decades since that law was passed. It reflects a certain mutual respect that we can have differences of opinion, even on matters of profound religious conviction, moral conviction, and moral belief.

This is not about abortion. The Hyde amendment is the law of the land. Federal funds cannot be used under this provision to provide abortions. What this is about is whether primary and preventive care is going to be extended, oftentimes to poor people, but also to vulnerable middle class people by Planned Parenthood clinics throughout this country, including 10 in Vermont that are doing a tremendous job for people who really need this care.

Is this Congress big enough, generous enough that it can allow those with different points of view on this question of choice to coexist as long as we have the separation with the Hyde amendment? It has not been abolished. It is intact. So the question I ask is if we pass this bill, what happens to the 19,000 Vermonters who get services for HIV testing, who get services for breast cancer screening, who get services for cervical cancer, who find out when it's timely to find out so they can be healthy and have a full life? What do we say to them when we pull the plug on them having the access to the care that they need and they deserve? This is not necessary.

This is not about abortion. The real-world implication of this legislation will be to say to 19,000 women in the State of Vermont, from one end of the State to the other, No, you cannot have access to cervical cancer screening, you can't have breast cancer screening, you can't get evidence-based sex education. We are a better Nation than that. We are a better Congress than that.

The Hyde amendment acknowledges that we have profound differences of opinion on this question of abortion, but we can share a common goal that young, vulnerable Americans in every one of our districts can have access to the care that they need.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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