Rep. Steve Cohen – a Democrat from Tennessee – shouted to black, pro-life activist Star Parker that her statement challenging the purposeful conflation of the abortion issue with other social issues of low-income women “shows ignorance.”
During a hearing Wednesday of the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice for H.R. 490, a bill that would restore legal protection to unborn babies once their heartbeat is detected, Parker – founder and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE) – challenged the following statement made by Cohen:
If you believe in life you should believe in Medicaid, healthcare, nutrition for people who are here, and preventing the eventuality of backroom abortions and where only the wealthy can afford to go where they may be legal, making poor women even more poor.
Cohen was repeating the abortion lobby’s popular narrative that those who espouse pro-life views should support social justice legislation that provides increased funding for low-income women who do give birth.
If you're a Black woman in America, it's statistically safer to have an abortion than to carry a pregnancy to term or give birth #ScaryStats
— PP Black Community (@PPBlackComm) October 31, 2017
Parker circled back to Cohen’s statement and also addressed a tweet from the Planned Parenthood Black Community Twitter account that claimed it is “safer” for black women to “have an abortion” than to “give birth”:
When it comes to mixing the abortion issue with the challenges that we face in many of our hard-hit communities, I feel it disingenuous that the issues of Medicaid would come up and other opportunities for us to readdress what has happened and broken down in our most distressed zip codes, the way that Planned Parenthood specifically targets these particular zip codes with abortion.
Abortion is the leading cause of death in the black community today. Since Roe v. Wade was legalized, 20 million humans have been killed inside of the womb of black women and then on Halloween, Planned Parenthood tweets out that black women are safest if they abort their child rather than bring it to term.
To the gentleman from Texas who brought up Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, I think that is important that we put in record that the needs of those that are most vulnerable in society cannot be addressed with abortion. Abortion feeds a narrative that women are victims, that they have no control over their sexual impulses. And the result of this narrative being forced down into our hardest-hit communities – we are seeing now recklessness in sexual activity and marriage has collapsed. In the 50s, 70 percent of black adults were married. Today, that number is 30 percent. This is causing a lot more social pathologies that have to be addressed in different types of legislation – not the Heartbeat Bill. The Heartbeat Bill is to protect the innocent.
Cohen then yelled at Parker, pounding his finger into the table, “I am not disingenuous about anything I say about Medicaid, Medicare…or SNAP programs and to suggest that I’m disingenuous shows your ignorance or your absolute inability to deal with Congress people the way they should. I believe in those issues and I think that they’re proper and to say I’m disingenuous is wrong and I expect an apology.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) then cut in, “I would ask for an apology from the gentleman from Tennessee (for) calling our witness ignorant when it seems to me she has a whole lot more knowledge and wisdom than …”
“She’s ignorant about me,” Cohen angrily shot back.
Subcommittee chairman Rep. Steve King (R-IA) then ended the hearing due to what he observed was a “lack of civility before this committee.”