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Public Statements

Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


I would plead with my colleagues to reject the Pence amendment and not to defund Planned Parenthood. And I mean that as a double entendre; to not defund the ability of women to plan parenthood. I know of what the previous speaker, the gentleman, referred.

To all those well-meaning people who want to speak about the value of life and not funding contraception and not wanting to make an abortion, which is the law of the land, available if people would choose that. I am really touched by the passion of the opposite to want to save black babies.

I can tell you, I know a lot about having black babies. I've had three of them. And I had my first one when I was 18 years old, at the ripe old age of 18. An unplanned pregnancy. And let me tell you, I went into labor, unfortunately, on New Year's Eve, had not even one dime. Phone calls cost a dime at that time. I didn't have a phone in my home and didn't have a dime to go to the phone booth to call an ambulance, an ambulance which is a waste of money using Medicaid dollars, but I didn't have a car and didn't have cab fare.

I just want to tell you a little bit about what it's like to not have Planned Parenthood. You have to add water to the formula to make it stretch. You have to give your kids Ramen noodles at the end of the month to fill up their little bellies so they won't cry. You have to give them mayonnaise sandwiches. They get very few fresh fruits and vegetables because they are expensive.

It subjects children to low educational attainment because of the ravages of poverty. You know, one of the biggest problems that school districts have in educating some of these poor black children who are unplanned is that they are mobile; they are constantly moving because they can't pay the rent.

And, yes, I heard many of you talk about sexual predators. It subjects them to sexual predators, as when you try to go out and do a little work you have to leave your kids with just anybody because you don't have $800 to $1,200 a month for child care.

And let me tell you, you know, the public policy has treated poor children and women who have not had the benefit of Planned Parenthood with utter contempt. These same children, it has been very difficult to get them health insurance through CHIP.

When you go to the grocery store to buy them a little birthday cake with your food stamps, everyone stares at you in contempt.

And, yes, on a bipartisan basis, Democrats and Republicans ended the entitlement to Aid for Families With Dependent Children; so that when we have a recession like we have now, women, who are alone typically, poor, of color, with these poor black children, have no money, go months and months and months with little or nothing to sustain themselves.

And you know, I recall that the first item on the YouCut Web site was to cut temporary assistance to needy families. And let me tell you what it does to women who cannot plan their parenthood. It derails their ability to complete education and training so they can get a job.

The TANF law is very harsh. It won't even let women complete high school diplomas. It sends them into work fair programs and very low wage service industries, often jobs with no unemployment benefits. And of course, they are treated with contempt and disdain when they apply for any aid. They are humiliated.

And so I would beg my colleagues, I would beg them to not defund Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is healthy for women, it's healthy for children, and it's healthy for our society.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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