Clinton Takes on the Antis: This Is What Diplomacy Looks Like

Emily Douglas

In a speech for the history books, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a clear and uncompromising case for lifesaving role of international reproductive rights and health care access when testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday.

In a speech for the history books, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a clear and uncompromising case for lifesaving role of international reproductive rights and health care access when testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday.

Anti-choice New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith lectured Clinton about Margaret Sanger’s supposed eugenic agenda, about the work of Planned Parenthood and then finally asked whether the adminstration sought to undo restrictive family planning policies in South America and Asia, AFP reports (likely alluding to the reinstatement of funding for UNFPA).  Clinton didn’t mince words:

"Congressman, I deeply respect your passionate concern and views
which you have championed and advocated for over the course of your
public career," Clinton told him.

"We, obviously, have a profound disagreement," the chief US diplomat said.

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I’ll include the rest of Clinton’s quote in the AFP in full:

"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," said Clinton.

"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," she added.

"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," she said.

"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,"
Clinton added.

"I’ve 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," the
secretary of state said.

"Keeping women and men in ignorance and denied the access to services actually increases the rate of abortion."

Clinton makes clear the connection between safe, legal, accessible abortion and maternal health, between family planning and women’s socioeconomic level, between access to contraception and the need for abortion, and between abortion and the full spectrum of reproductive health care. When put in context, it becomes obvious that abortion is not only, not even primarily, a contested medical procedure but the key to a wholesale paradigm shift in valuing women’s lives.

The AP adds:

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry asked:
"Is forcing U.S. taxpayers to fund abortion in keeping with the highest
values of the United States of America?"

Clinton said she had a "fundamental disagreement" with the Nebraska
Republican. She said it’s the administration’s view that family
planning is an important part of women’s health.

If preventing maternal deaths and ensuring women can live lives of dignity, then, yes, Congressman Fortenberry, funding abortion is in accordance with some of the highest values the United States could ever strive for.

Even CBN’s David Brody had to concede, "It should be noted that the Secretary of State kept her composure and didn’t let the pro-life voices distract from her message."  

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