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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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Oakland pastor to be honored by lawmakers

J. Alfred Smith Sr. book cover

J. Alfred Smith Sr., 78, of Rodeo, pastor emeritus of Oakland’s Allen Temple Baptist Church, will be the keynote speaker and special honoree at the California Legislative Black Caucus’ 2nd Annual King Legacy Breakfast on Thursday morning at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento.

Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, D-Alameda, who chairs the caucus, said the event aims to formally recognize the commitments and extensive contributions of several honorees exemplifying the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Attendees will include members of the Legislature, some of California’s constitutional officers and various other dignitaries; Assembly Speaker-elect John Pérez, D-Los Angeles, is scheduled to make opening remarks on the significance of King’s legacy and its relevance during these tough economic times.

Swanson’s office says Smith has written and edited dozens of books and articles on theology and encouraging equal justice through prophetic work; he holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley and a Master’s of Theology from the American Baptist Seminary of the West in Berkeley, where he now serves as a professor of Preaching and Church Ministries. After Thursday’s breakfast, he’ll be honored with an Assembly resolution commending his commitment to social justice and equality for all.

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How other campaigns see Bobby Shriver for AG

The Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Alert had the scoop this morning that Santa Monica City Councilman Bobby Shriver – brother of California first lady Maria Shriver and nephew of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy and the late President John F. Kennedy – is mulling a 2010 run for California Attorney General.

If he’s in, Shriver would join a crowded Democratic primary field including San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, who has been busy raising money from many of the same people with whom she rubbed elbows in the Obama campaign last year; Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, D-Newark, who entered the race with the biggest pot of money already in the bank; Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, who might’ve gained some valuable experience while taking a drubbing from Jerry Brown in the 2006 primary; Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance; and Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara.

If someone can clearly break from the pack as a front-runner in the next few months, he or she could benefit from having so many others split what’s left of the pie.

“We expect there are going to be more people who will be entering this race,” Torrico campaign consultant Phil Giarrizzo told me today – they’d expected Shriver, he said, and they still think Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly will jump in, too.

As for Shriver, with whom Giarrizzo said he has worked on environmental issues, “he’s a talented, bright, articulate person, but we’ve seen many times, in the sense that ‘he’s a Kennedy,’ that people look to accomplishment, they look to a record,” Giarrizzo said. Primary voters tend to be very discerning, he noted, and “it doesn’t work that you can just pass along a family name; he will have to run on his own merits … a level of experience he’ll have to communicate. I don’t think we look at him as ‘a Kennedy’ – I think we look at him as Bobby Shriver, an activist and city councilman.”

“Politics is a debate of ideas and we’ll see as we go forward what his ideas are,” he said.

Harris campaign manager Ace Smith said Friday that “As the only career prosecutor in the race, District Attorney Harris looks forward to having a spirited debate about all the issues of law enforcement.”