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Stop the Endless Debate on Abortion

Jan 28, 2014
WASHINGTON--Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) spoke out against H.R. 7, another attempt to restrict a woman’s right to choose, and called on Congress to take up meaningful legislation to improve the quality of life for Americans across the country. 
Below is a video and transcript of the speech.


Mr. Speaker, as Yogi Bera once said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” How many times can we have the same argument? 41 years ago, the Supreme Court affirmed a woman’s constitutional right to choose. Yet, four decades later, this chamber will vote, yet again, to rob women of their right to control their own bodies.

Today, the Hyde amendment prohibits the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortion services. While I oppose this restriction, it is important to emphasize that this statute is already the law. It was passed in 1976! Yet the legislation we are considering today would take that restriction even further.

My friends on the other side of the aisle are no longer content simply banning federal funding for abortion. Now even private funding for this constitutional right is up for debate. A vote in favor of this bill will authorize, for the first time, penalties for private insurance companies that offer plans that cover abortion services.

Let me say that again. This bill will allow the federal government to use tax policy to punish private companies that even offer coverage for abortion as part of their insurance plans. And the penalties don’t stop at insurance companies. This bill also goes after consumers, penalizing those who choose insurance plans in the federal exchange that include coverage for abortion services by removing their eligibility for income-based subsidies.

Mr. Speaker, the hypocrisy is almost unbelievable. Every day on the floor, my colleagues lecture about their mission to keep the federal government out of the daily lives of the American people. But apparently those principles don’t extend to a doctor’s office or the most private and intimate choices a woman can make about her own body. A woman who makes the choice to end her pregnancy should not have her motives questioned. It’s a choice no one wants to make, but the unfortunate reality is many people have to.

If my colleagues are looking to end abortion, let’s take actions that will actually reduce the number of abortions instead of making policies that embarrass and demonize women.

Here are a few suggestions:

Let’s invest in family planning programs that help men and women have more control over when and how they start their families. Let’s support comprehensive sex education so that teenagers know how to be safe and prevent unintended pregnancies. Let’s make adoption easier for loving families so no child is left spending their entire youth as a ward of the state.

Mr. Speaker, I know that many of us will never agree on the very personal and emotional issue of abortion. But instead of rehashing the same fights, let’s focus on the things we can agree on.

Let’s reconsider the definition of pro-life to include efforts that improve the quality of life for people in America. Being pro-life should mean supporting programs like Head Start and school lunches that help our young people succeed. Being pro-life should mean supporting investments in job training programs to help people find well-paying jobs so they can provide for their families. Being pro-life should mean supporting a raise in the minimum wage so a single mother working 40 hours a week isn’t living below the poverty line. And being pro-life should mean supporting SNAP benefits so that working families don’t have to choose between feeding their children and paying the rent.

The list of things this Congress can do to support the lives of the Americans we represent is endless. It is a shame that we waste so much time having the same old arguments. I’m afraid that we’ve lost sight of what our constituents sent us here to do. Let’s stop attacking women’s health, and instead let’s focus on making investments in our future that will help Americans realize their full potential and live the American dream.