I've been covering the anti-abortion movement for so long, I can recite the talking points in my sleep. And you know what I figured out early on? Almost every dedicated activist I interviewed was either someone who had lost a baby, or someone who couldn't get pregnant. Their opposition was often grounded in nothing more complicated than "My wife and I can't find a nice little white baby to adopt, and yet these selfish girls just flush them down the toilet!"
And those stories about anti-abortion activists bringing their own daughters to get abortions? Not an urban myth. A friend who managed a local center told me many years ago about a case where it even turned out that the anti-abortion dad who brought his daughter to the clinic was the father.
I'm not saying no one's genuinely moved to oppose abortion. I'm just pointing out there are all kinds of reasons why people oppose abortion, and many of those reasons have nothing whatsoever to do with Baby Jesus, little red roses and cute little fetus feet. They do have a lot to do with their own dark, repressed drives, bitterness, resentment, vindictiveness, twisted ideas about sex and an overwhelming need to punish women who do just about anything of which they don't approve. Conservative politicians are more than happy to take advantage of this psychological morass -- after all, it's a highly lucrative fundraising tool and also drives elections.
That's why I was riveted to see this genuinely anguished response from Rep. Jackie Speier (CA) after a self-appointed defender of the Conceived But Not Yet Born, Rep. Chris Smith (NJ), read from a graphic description of an abortion procedure on the floor of the House Thursday night:
Mr. Chairman, 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 those women he spoke about just now.
I 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 the baby. But for you to stand on this floor and to suggest as you have that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed or done cavalierly or done without any thought is preposterous. To think that we are here tonight debating this issue, when the American people if they are listening are scratching their heads and wondering: What does this have to do with me getting a job? What does this have to do with reducing the deficit? And the answer is: Nothing at all.
There is a vendetta against Planned Parenthood and it was played out in this room tonight. Planned Parenthood has a right to operate. Planned Parenthood has a right to provide services for family planning. Planned Parenthood has a right to offer abortions. The last time I checked, abortions were legal in this country.
Now, you may not like Planned Parenthood. So be it. There are many on our side of the aisle that don’t like Halliburton, and Halliburton is responsible for extortion, for bribery, for 10 cases of misconduct in the Federal database for a $7 billion sole source contract. But do you see us over here filing amendments to wipe out funding for Halliburton? No. Because, frankly, that would be irresponsible.
It's encouraging that the response to her speech has been very supportive.