DeGette to Congress on birth control: ‘This is 2012, not the Dark Ages’

Colorado First District Congresswoman Diana DeGette launched her “Women’s Health Wednesdays” series on the floor of the House today with a speech celebrating the beneficial nature of birth control as both family planning and preventive health tool. “I would like to kick off this first Women’s Health Wednesday by reminding everyone this is 2012, not the Dark Ages,” she said.

DeGette, the head of the Pro-Choice Caucus on Capitol Hill, has been a lead critic of efforts among Republican members of the 112th Congress to fight abortion in the United States by passing legislation that limits women’s access to health care services.

DeGette’s Women’s Health Wednesdays will feature a series of one-minute floor speeches on the issue each Wednesday for the rest of the year that seek to push back against the anti-abortion legislative drive that has dominated much debate over the last two years in the House.

DeGette’s remarks as delivered differed slightly from the prepared version sent out to members of the media and reprinted below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to announce the Inaugural Women’s Health Wednesday. Starting today, and continuing for every Wednesday, Members of this distinguished body will take to the floor to stand against the unceasing attacks on women’s health care levied by my colleagues across the aisle and the extreme right wing across the nation.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to kick off this first Women’s Health Wednesday by reminding everyone this is 2012, not the Dark Ages. Let me say that again: This is 2012. Yet because of the actions of this Congress, and straight up to the positions of their candidates for president, we are actually debating birth control. Birth control. 99 percent of women have used birth control at some point in their lives, including 98 percent of Catholic women, and 1.5 million women rely on it for non-contraceptive purposes to treat a variety of medical conditions.

The Institute of Medicine has determined, based upon science, that birth control is a fundamental part of women’s preventive care. Yet, here we are debating birth control.

Mr. Speaker, everywhere I go women stop me to express their disbelief and outrage that we are actually debating birth control. Birth control saves lives, helps prevent unintended pregnancies, improves the outcomes for children, and reduces abortion. Those are all good things for women; for their families; for our nation. So why on earth would my colleagues across the aisle and their party launch a massive effort to limit access to birth control? This is 2012. We all know better.

Mr.Speaker, I am proud to stand here as the co-chair of the Pro-Choice caucus and kickoff Women’s Health Wednesdays. Over the next few minutes, and over the next several weeks and months, I look forward to hearing from so many of my colleagues, their wisdom and experience, and their perspective as to why we should all join together and stand up for the health of the women of America.

The Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences has recommended birth control be classified a preventative health service for women. Birth control not only prevents unwanted pregnancies but also works to head off diseases.

DeGette was joined by a number of colleagues in delivering speeches today, including Reps Carolyn McCarthy (D-New York), Susan Davis (D-Calif), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-Oregon).