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DEGETTE: Hi, Rachel. It`s good to be with you.
MADDOW: So, seeing you speak at that rally today, I wanted to ask you
why you see it as an issue of national importance that Mitt Romney is not
rescinding his support for Richard Mourdock after Richard Mourdock made
those comments about rape and God intending for a woman to become pregnant during a rape.
DEGETTE: Well, what really strikes me is what you had said, which is
the Republican Party has moved so far to the right, now they`re saying that
all abortions should be criminal offenses, except for maybe the life of the
mother. That is really an extreme position.
Mitt Romney, somehow, in the last couple of days, has been trying to
say, no, no, I`m more moderate than that -- because he realizes there`s a
gender gap. But he will not rescind his endorsement of this obviously far
And I think that that says that Mitt Romney`s trying to have it both
ways. He`s trying to say to the American public, oh, no, I favor these
exceptions, but then he`s endorsing somebody who says it`s God`s will if a
rape victim gets pregnant.
MADDOW: He also chose a vice presidential nominee, who does not
believe that rape victims should be accepted from a national criminal ban
on abortion. Paul Ryan holds the same policy views as not only Richard
Mourdock, but also Todd Akin. I wonder just what your thoughts are on why
Paul Ryan`s views on choice, specifically, haven`t become more of a
lightning rod in this election.
Certainly, the Democratic Party has been willing to talk about
extremism on abortion in the Republican Party and Mr. Romney`s own views,
but Paul Ryan hasn`t had a lot of attention for this.
DEGETTE: Well, Paul Ryan voted over and over and over again to
restrict a woman`s right to choose. He supports this personhood amendment.
And by the way, Mitt Romney supports the personhood amendment too.
What the personhood amendment would say is that when a sperm and an
egg meet, that`s a person, just like us. And it would outlaw virtually all
abortions. It would outlaw many common forms of birth control, like birth
control pills and IUDs. And it would outlaw in vitro fertilization and
stem cell research.
And I -- you know, I`ve been saying this all along, that is a really
extreme position and it`s not just Paul Ryan that has that position, it`s
Mitt Romney that has that position. And Mitt Romney has repeated that over
and over and over again.
So I think both of their positions on this issue of abortion are way
far to the right, certainly farther to the right than Americans believe.
The vast majority of Americans believe that abortion should be safe and
legal and rare.
The exceptions we`re talking about are the traditional exceptions
we`ve had for public funding for abortion.
So these positions are way beyond the mainstream.
MADDOW: We have seen this historic increase in state level abortion
restrictions since the Republicans picked up so many seats in the state in
the 2010 midterms. But from your perspective, in Congress, chairing the
Pro-Choice Caucus, do you think the Republicans at the federal level are
any more restrained or moderate on these issues than we`re seeing
Republicans act in the states?
DEGETTE: Oh, no, I think it`s worse. The very first vote they had
was a vote to restrict a woman`s right to choose. They`ve had 30 votes in
this Congress, since 2010, to restrict a woman`s right to birth control and
family planning, to defund Planned Parenthood, to restrict international
family planning, and they`ve had nine votes to, like the personhood
amendment, to restrict a woman`s right to abortion.
So I -- you know, I`ve been the co-chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus for
some years now. And these efforts in the last two years really do seem to
have escalated in Congress. That`s why, you know, when candidates say,
well, I don`t really want to talk about abortion or birth control, it`s not
a federal issue -- that`s just untrue, because the main goal of a lot of
leaders in Congress is to restrict a woman`s right to make decisions over
her own body. Not just with abortion, but also with family planning and
MADDOW: Democratic Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado -- thank
you for your time tonight. Appreciate having you here. Thank you.
DEGETTE: It`s great. Good to be with you, Rachel.
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