Introducing "the Toxic Ten": The 10 Worst Members Who Fought Against Planned Parenthood
It was a little over a year ago when Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) proposed legislation that would have barred Planned Parenthood from receiving the federal funds needed to provide essential and lifesaving services to nearly three million women each year. It was a long, hard fought battle — Republicans in Congress even threatened to shut down the government over funding Planned Parenthood. Imagine that — shutting down the federal government to deny women health care. At the end of nearly three months, the legislation was defeated in the Senate on April 14, 2010. But we haven’t forgotten what happened.
This week, we are marking the one-year anniversary of the Pence amendment by recognizing those who stood with us and remembering those who sought to end access to affordable health care for millions of women. So, today, we’re introducing our Toxic Ten — the 10 members of Congress who spoke out on the Pence amendment and remain to this day “bad for your health.”
The list includes Todd Akin (MO), Ann Marie Buerkle (NY), Joe Donnelly (IN), Sean Duffy (WI), Mike Fitzpatrick (PA), Steve King (IA), Mike Pence (IN), Denny Rehberg (MT), Marco Rubio (FL), and Allen West (FL). Last year they had their vote, but this November we will have ours.
We’ve pulled together the worst and most shocking quotes from five members of this toxic crew. Check it out:
Representative Mike Pence:
It would be wrong of us to begin our Toxic Ten with anyone other than Representative Mike Pence. In a session led by Republicans who promised to focus on jobs, Pence introduced the stand-alone “defund Planned Parenthood” bill less than 48 hours after the new session began and propagated numerous falsehoods surrounding Planned Parenthood’s work as a comprehensive health service provider. In a speech on the House floor, Pence said, “There is no doubt that Planned Parenthood's focus is on making Big Abortion even bigger.” In fact, Pence couldn’t be further from the truth since Planned Parenthood devotes more than 90 percent of their services to preventive care, and does more to minimize the need for abortion and prevent unintended pregnancies than anyone else.
But perhaps the most outrageous thing about Pence is that he was willing to shut down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood (even though he wasn’t always willing to admit it).
Representative Sean Duffy:
Duffy receives second billing in our highlighted list because he co-sponsored the Pence bill to defund Planned Parenthood. In fact, as a freshman it was one of his first legislative actions and he made sure to share just how proud he was of it:
"For too long, federal tax dollars have gone to subsidize the unconscionable destruction of human life by abortion and the time has come to finally close this awful loophole. This measure would ensure that federal tax dollars meant for family planning services would not benefit those service providers who also perform abortions…. I'm proud to make this one of my first legislative actions as a Member of Congress-for there is no right more fundamental and cherished than the right to life." [Press Release, 1/14/11]
Representative Steve King:
Another co-sponsor of the Pence amendment to defund Planned Parenthood, Iowa Congressman Steve King, is truly bad for women’s health. In fact, King once claimed he didn’t believe birth control pills prevented pregnancy. It should come as no surprise that he makes our list of the Toxic Ten. In a floor speech called “Putting Our Nation Back on Track,” King detailed his opposition to Obamacare, while accusing Planned Parenthood of investing in promiscuity:
“I'm going to add to this that neither shall we vote to fund Planned Parenthood , and I shall be looking for ways to unfund every other entity like them that promotes abortion or provides abortion as a matter of practice in their facilities. Planned Parenthood has invested in promiscuity, but that's a longer discussion than I will engage in tonight….”
Representative Ann Marie Buerkele
The only female on our list, Buerkle has sure earned her place. She’s been the public spokeswoman for fringe anti-choice organizations like Operation Rescue and New York State Right to Life, and has led attempts to intimidate doctors who offer abortion care by organizing large protests in front of their offices. So when the Pence amendment came up for a vote, you could guess which way she cast her ballot: against women’s health. In remarks on the House floor on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Buerkle once discussed the need to defund Planned Parenthood and warned of the existence of virtual abortions:
“In addition to the Federal subsidizing of abortions through the Affordable Care Act, I join other pro-life Members of this Congress in expressing my concerns about the use of Skype technology to perform telemed abortions.” [Floor Speech, 1/19/11]
Representative Allen West:
Let’s just be clear, it’s hard to choose the worst among the myriad of offensive statements West has made throughout his political career. But, when it comes to discussing Planned Parenthood specifically, the one we highlighted below (where he argues Planned Parenthood women are “neutering American men”) has to be the among the most ridiculous:
"We need you to come in and lock shields and strengthen up the men that will go into the fight for you. To let these other women know, on the other side, these Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women who have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness, to let them know that we are not going to have our men become subservient.” [Speech at Women Impacting Nation Meeting, 4/25/11]
With that last quote, we conclude Volume One of the Toxic Ten. From the mischaracterizations, lies, falsities, and just plain offensive statements, these five have truly earned their place on our list. Don't forget to read Part Two of the Toxic Ten for more.