They Debated Abortion. What She Said Next Brought Groans

Calif. Rep. Norma Torres got irritated during conversation
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 13, 2019 8:46 AM CDT
Congresswoman Heats Up House With 'Sex-Starved Males' Remark
In this Aug. 28, 2014, file photo, California state Sen. Norma Torres, D-Pomona, poses at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

Remarks by a California Democratic congresswoman during a debate about abortion on the House floor Wednesday spurred "audible outrage," per Roll Call. Lawmakers were discussing Health and Human Services appropriations bills and how spending on abortion fit in. Florida GOP Rep. Ross Spano objected to some of the legislation because it involved "Americans' tax dollars being forced to subsidize entities that kill unborn children," per USA Today. Rep. Norma Torres' response was cutting: "Mr. Speaker, it is tiring to hear from so many sex-starved males on this floor talk about a woman's right to choose." The New York Post notes that groans could be heard on the House floor after Torres' remark, which she was given the chance to retract—and she did, but in a way that elicited even more irritation from Republicans.

"Mr. Speaker, if it pleases my colleague on the other side, I will withdraw my statement about sex-starved males on the floor," she said, repeating the offending phrase. Torres could have been dinged for breaking House rules—Roll Call notes "members cannot personally impugn their colleagues on the floor"—but a second retraction attempt seemed to finally tamp things down. Torres clarified: "I will put it in different terms. It is tiring to be here on this floor or in committee as a woman, to continue to be counseled about ... types of affordable [care], whether it is family planning conversations that rightfully I deserve to have with my own doctor, [or] choosing when women want to have a family and to avoid pregnancies before they become pregnancies." She added, "It is unfortunate that that is something that continues to be denied to American women day in and day out on this floor." (Read more House of Representatives stories.)

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