Kathleen Gilbert

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House Rep. defends abortion with ‘pregnancy-termination’ story: ‘I lost a baby’

Kathleen Gilbert
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WASHINGTON, D.C., February 18, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In a speech that quickly went viral, one female Democrat House lawmaker reacted in anger on Thursday evening to pro-life efforts to defund Planned Parenthood by declaring that she “lost a baby” to the same “procedure” used to perform abortions - and therefore knows that it is not “done cavalierly.”

But while Rep. Jackie Speier’s testimony was hailed by pro-abortion forces, her wording led to confusion for being unclear whether her procedure was in fact a procured abortion. While some outlets say the congresswoman was referring to an “abortion” or “pregnancy termination,” Speier has called the event a “miscarriage.”

Rep. Speier (D-CA) took to the floor Thursday night after Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) finished his testimony in favor of the Pence amendment, a motion that strips all federal funding for the abortion organization and was voted into the bill Friday afternoon. Smith had described in detail the moment of former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson’s conversion to the pro-life cause after viewing an abortion procedure at 13 weeks. 

“You know, I had really planned to speak about something else, but the gentleman from New Jersey has just put my stomach in knots, because I’m one of the women he spoke of just now,” said Speier. She then went on to state that she “had a procedure at 17 weeks, pregnant with a child that had moved from the vagina into the cervix, and that procedure that you just talked about was a procedure that I endured.” 

“I lost a baby,” she said. Speier accused Smith of incorrectly assuming that “this is a procedure that is either welcomed, or done cavalierly, or done without any thought.” 

The congresswoman went on to criticize pro-life Republicans for focusing on a “vendetta” against Planned Parenthood instead of job creation. “Planned Parenthood has a right to offer abortions. Last time I checked, abortions were legal in this country,” she said. 

The emotional speech, applauded on the House floor, met with praise from abortion proponents on the Internet. Lisa McIntire of EMILY’s List lauded Speier’s words as an instance of “remarkable bravery,” a sentiment which National Organization for Women president Terry O’Neill echoed.

However, it is unclear whether Speier was referring to a procured abortion, or to a miscarriage, in which the same procedure used in abortions is innocuously used to remove the remains of an unborn child who has already died.

Pointing to Speier’s use of the words “I lost a baby,” pro-life blogger Jill Stanek observed: “That phrase doesn’t mix with abortion.”

“Did her baby die before being removed? If so, Speier did not have an abortion, as the word is commonly understood,” said Stanek. “I think Speier needs to clarify what exactly happened if she is going to allow her peeps to make her a poster child for abortion.” 

A 2003 article in the San Francisco Gate reported that Speier suffered two miscarriages, at least one of which occurred in the second trimester.

Tim Schlittner, Speier’s spokesman, told CNN today that the congresswoman did not consider the event to have been an “abortion,” but indicated that the pregnancy did not end spontaneously. “She did not consider it an abortion, it was a miscarriage,” Schlittner said. “The fetus moved to where it could not survive, so they had to end the pregnancy.”

“Chris Smith of New Jersey was talking about a procedure that’s known as D and E, and that is the procedure that the congresswoman had,” he noted.

CNN reporter Kevin Litipak concluded that, “contrary to some news reports, Speiers did not have an abortion.”

However, a Huffington Post article by Elise Foley late Friday afternoon reported that, “Speier underwent an abortion in her early 40s, while she was serving in the California State Assembly. The procedure used to terminate the pregnancy was the same type that Smith’s book described.”

“This was a wanted pregnancy, it was the second miscarriage I had had,” Speier told HuffPost. “What they express doesn’t come close to the experience that a woman goes through when she is losing a baby or when a pregnancy is terminated. It’s a painful, gut-wrenching loss.”

The headline on the article, originally entitled “Jackie Speier on sharing her emergency-abortion story: ‘It just overwhelmed me,’” later changed to “pregnancy-termination story,” omitting the abortion reference.

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