Rep. Jackie Speier: The Groundswell Of Support Has Been Remarkable


Lawrence O'Donnell talked to Rep. Jackie Speier about her experience on the House floor last night and the groundswell of support she has received since she spoke out for that silent majority of men and women out there who feel like she does but aren't able to speak out themselves.

Jackie Speier On Sharing Her Pregnancy-Termination Story: 'It Just Overwhelmed Me':

Rep. Jackie Speier listened to debate on the House floor on Thursday evening as a Republican Rep. Chris Smith read a long, detailed description of an abortion and a "mangled image of a dead, tiny baby." Finally, Speier stood up and told her colleagues she had undergone an abortion in the early 1990s following a complication nearly four months into her pregnancy.

"As the night wore on, the vitriol and grotesque commentary got worse and worse," Speier, a second-term Democrat from California, told HuffPost. "I sat there thinking, none of these men on the other side have even come close to experiencing this, and yet they can pontificate about what it's like. It just overwhelmed me."

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. As she listened, Speier said she became more emotional and made the decision to speak out.

"This was a wanted pregnancy, it was the second miscarriage I had had," she 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."

She said she had spoken publicly about her experience with abortion only once before, while debating late-term abortion in the California state legislature.

After she told her story, Speier said many colleagues -- both male and female -- offered their support, some saying she put tears in their eyes. One Republican told her the amendment was inappropriate, she said, while Smith, whose remarks caused her to speak up, said nothing.


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