Saturday, April 25, 2009
Secretary of State Clinton addressed Congress the other day. Here's a transcript:
Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ): —my question: Is the Obama administration seeking, in any way, to weaken or overturn pro-life laws and policies in African and Latin-American countries, either directly or through multi-lateral organizations, including and especially the United Nations, African Union, or the OAS, or by way of funding NGOs like Planned Parenthood; and, secondly, and so we can have total transparency—you know, you know, as a former lawmaker, we always have definition pages when we write legislation; definitions do matter—does the United States' definition of the term "reproductive health," or "reproductive services," or "reproductive rights," include abortion? I yield to the distinguished gentleman.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Congressman, I deeply respect your passionate concern and views, which you have championed and advocated for over the course of your public career. We obviously have a profound disagreement.
When I think about the suffering that I have seen of women around the world—I've been in hospitals in Brazil where half the women were enthusiastically and joyfully greeting new babies and the other half were fighting for their lives against botched abortions. I've been in African countries where 12- and 13-year-old girls are bearing children. I have been in Asian countries where the denial of family planning consigns women to lives of oppression and hardship. So we have a very fundamental disagreement.
And it is my strongly held view that you are entitled to advocate, and everyone who agrees with you should be free to do so anywhere in the world, and so are we.
We happen to think that family planning is an important part of women's health—and reproductive health includes access to abortion, that I believe should be safe, legal, and rare. I spent a lot of my time trying to bring down the rate of abortions, and it has been my experience that good family planning and good medical care brings down the rate of abortion. Keeping women and men in ignorance and denied the access to services actually increases the rate of abortion.
During my time as First Lady, I helped to create the Campaign Against Teenage Pregnancy, and while we were working to provide good information, access to contraception, and decision-making that would enable young women to protect themselves and say no, the rate of teen pregnancy went down. I'm sad to report that, after an administration of 8 years that undid so much of the good work, the rate of teenage pregnancy is going up.
So, we disagree. And we are now an administration that will protect the rights of women, including their rights to reproductive healthcare.
It's really great to hear reasonable, 21st Century thinking coming out of the administration. None of this "oooh, no, we won't give you money unless you promise you won't let those women get uppity and live their lives independently" bullshit.
(transcript by Melissa McEwan at Shakesville)