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Jackie Speier makes abortion debate personal

Hours after Rep. Jackie Speier joined some of her California Democratic House peers yesterday to voice concern over Republicans’ efforts to cut Title X family planning funding, she made national news by revealing on the House floor that she herself has had an abortion:

Speier, D-Hillsborough, spoke in response to the ardently anti-abortion-rights Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who had just read aloud graphic descriptions of abortion from a book. This all happened during debate over an amendment by Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., to block federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Speier moments ago Tweeted: “I’m overwhelmed by the warm comments I’ve received from across the U.S. I will always stand up for women’s health and reproductive rights.”

UPDATE @ 3:09 P.M.: Speier issued this statement today after the House voted 240-185 to pass Pence’s amendment:

“Last night, I spoke on the House floor about a painful time in my life when the pregnancy that my husband and I prayed for was unsuccessful. I had what’s called dilation and evacuation or d & e. The fetus slipped from my uterus into my vagina and could not survive. Today some news reports are implying that I wanted my pregnancy to end, but that is simply not true. I lost my baby.

“It is time to stop politicizing women’s health. For some, describing a procedure like the one I endured is nothing more than talking points. But for millions of women like me it’s much more—it’s something that will always be a part of us.

“Planned Parenthood provides vital services to women including family planning and cervical cancer screenings. I am disappointed that the House passed the Pence amendment to defund it. These sorts of policies would turn back the clock on women’s health and reproductive rights. I urge the Senate to defeat it. It is time to stop playing politics with our lives.”

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One House Republican’s epic fail

The “Tone-Deaf Politician of the Year” award might go to Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, who – during BP CEO Tony Hayward’s testimony to Congress today – apologized for the Obama Administration’s “shakedown” of the oil giant for a $20 billion escrow account to cover some of the costs of the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Joe BartonAn apology. For a “shakedown.” Of a company that caused the worst environmental disaster in the nation’s history. Which also is wrecking an entire region’s already-fragile economy. Riiiiiiight.

This from a guy the Wall Street Journal once called the “House GOP’s leading expert on energy policy.” But, hey, can you guess what industry he worked in before his election to Congress? Oh, I just KNEW you could.

Even his own party’s House leadership wasted no time in hanging Barton out to dry today. Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio; Republican Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va.; and Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence, R-Ind., issued this statement:

“The oil spill in the Gulf is this nation’s largest natural disaster and stopping the leak and cleaning up the region is our top priority. Congressman Barton’s statements this morning were wrong. BP itself has acknowledged that responsibility for the economic damages lies with them and has offered an initial pledge of $20 billion dollars for that purpose.

“The families and businesspeople in the Gulf region want leadership, accountability and action from BP and the Administration. It is unacceptable that, 59 days after this crisis began, no solution is forthcoming. Simply put, the American people want all of our resources, time and focus to be directed toward stopping the spill and cleaning up the mess.”

Fine, but… wait a minute. “Natural disaster?” Seriously? Perhaps they meant “disaster for nature,” but that’s not what “natural disaster” means. This is a man-made disaster, one very likely born of negligence and greed, and nobody should forget it.

UPDATE @ 4:26 P.M.: Well, THAT was quick. Unfazed by the GOP leadership’s disapproval of Barton’s comment, the liberals are on the warpath: