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Public Statements

Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


I would be remiss if I did not thank the Speaker, Speaker Boehner, for the open rule that we have been working under for the past several days. Even though we have not agreed on much, probably not anything, I do appreciate the fact that we have been able to have a fair and open debate on some of the most profound issues of our time.

I am hoping earnestly this is not the last open rule we have. I know that it has turned 3 days of debate into 6 or 7 days of debate. There has been a lot of hot air in this Chamber. I think if this Chamber were a hot air balloon, we could probably make Europe. But I do think there is credit due to the Speaker for allowing this debate to occur.

I do want to remind the Members, in spite of some of the pronouncements of the previous speaker, that there is fixed law that prevents Federal funding from being used for abortion. That is really not what this is about. This is about the ability of Planned Parenthood to conduct women's health care, to offer services that are deeply needed in many communities where no other source of health care is available.

Planned Parenthood last year carried out 1 million screenings for cervical cancer and 830,000 breast exams and offered nearly 4 million tests and treatments for STDs, including HIV. Those are the services they provide. They are prohibited by law by the Hyde amendment from using Federal funds for abortions. That is a fact. You can be entitled to your own opinion, but that is a fact.

I am a pro-life Democrat. I am a pro-life Democrat, and my faith informs my position on this issue. There used to be, I think, a general agreement, as divisive as this debate is and has been in this country for years, there has been a level of agreement that we have reached where I think we agreed at one point in this country that the best way to reduce abortion in this country is to prevent unwanted pregnancies. We used to agree on that. This bill, this amendment, will increase the number of abortions in this country.

The heart of what Planned Parenthood does is in the area of contraceptives and medical screenings for cervical cancer and breast cancer. But contraception is a big part of what they do in trying to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country.

If we take the funding away from them, and it says all funding--all funding. It doesn't distinguish. All funding out of title X is prohibited from Planned Parenthood. So let's not play a game about what you are against and what you are for. This is for all funding. That is what the bill says.

And if you prevent Planned Parenthood from providing advice and services on contraception, we know for a certainty, especially in the communities that they provide services to, we are going to have an increase in the number of abortions in this country. That is the natural consequence of what is on the table here in this amendment. You are going to reduce funding for contraception; you are going to have more unwanted pregnancies, and you are going to have more abortions.

Is that is what this debate is about? Is that what we are trying to do here?

I used to think it was different. I thought we had some level of agreement on this, that the goal was to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and that is how we were going to reduce abortions in this country.

I am disheartened by this amendment. I wish that the gentleman would withdraw this amendment because I think it is counterproductive to the goal of reducing the number of abortions in this country.

And as a family who has been affected by cervical cancer and breast cancer, I think that is very important work that they do. And I support that.

I don't have many friends in the Planned Parenthood community. They don't support me. I am pro-life. But I respect the good work that they do.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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