Bill Maher Rages at Audience for Cheering Rep. Katie Porter Dunking On Him Over Abortion: ‘You Can Go Watch Another Show’
California Democratic Congresswoman Katie Porter stole the show this week when she went off on former Vice President Joe Biden and Real Time host Bill Maher on the issue of abortion, earning the biggest laughs of the night from Maher’s audience.
Porter is a freshman Democrat who defeated a Republican incumbent in November, and has fast made a name for herself by upbraiding witnesses at congressional hearings in several moments that have gone viral. Those skills were on display during this week’s edition of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, when the host introduced one segment by joking “Funny subject, abortion.”
He then explained how Biden switched positions on the so-called Hyde Amendment this week, and asked Porter to explain the legislation, to which she replied “The Hyde Amendment was a law passed in 1976 when I was 2 years old that has not been changed since, that prohibits federal funds to be used to provide women with reproductive health care such as abortions.”
Maher then asked Porter if Biden’s switch to opposing the law meant he would “lose those centrist Democrats who are the ones who have him at the top of the polls, and are his base?”
“Look, I this is just an issue of right and wrong,” Porter said, adding “I’m the only person sitting at this table who has ever had to face this these kinds of healthcare decisions, and Joe Biden is simply trying to make a political decision here, and failing still to recognize that this is a personal decision.”
“And even when he talked about it, he couldn’t quite get the word out,” Porter said, and did a halting impression of Biden’s statement.
“It was like, ‘Health care for women that might involve, you know, some pieces of you that are sort of per…,'” she said, to big laughs from the panel and the audience. “It’s like women cannot have social and economic equality without the right to control their bodies, without bodily autonomy.”
“Look I was a professor, better late than never for the student who gets it on the last day of class,” Porter continued, “but literally if this is for him a reckoning that’s coming out of political motivation, rather than out of understanding what it means to be, oh I don’t know, half of the world’s population, then that’s a real problem.”
Maher pushed back by telling Porter that a lot of women are “pro-life,” and added “I mean look, I am pro-choice, but I mean, I’m a little squishy and always have been because they told my mother after my sister, very difficult birth, she shouldn’t have another one.”
“So knowing that I could have been on the cutting room floor, I’m…” Maher said, pausing for what he expected would be groans from the audience. There were no groans, but Maher responded to them anyway by saying “What? What? Why is that so terrible? But I get it, as long as it’s still in you you…”
“Look, your mom made her choice,” Porter said, and after a beat, added “And we’re all here with the consequences of that choice.”
The audience and the panel erupted, and Maher stood up and told the audience “First of all, fuck you, you can go watch another show, we got a lot on the lot here if I’m not doing it for you.”
And as Porter tried to continue, Maher protested “No, no, I’m asking the hard question.
“I just want to say, God bless Mrs. Maher, God bless her for having you,” Porter continued, then with another perfect beat, added “I’m sure it wasn’t easy.”
“I’m a mom with three kids, it isn’t easy,” Porter said, “but the point is, she and your father and she made her choice.”
“Again, I’m not arguing what your pretending I’m arguing for, all of you on this panel, and you assholes who cheered that,” Maher said.
On a more serious note, elsewhere in the show, fellow panelist and New York Times columnist Charles Blow gave his own rejoinder to Maher’s query, noting that then-Rep. Henry Hyde “when this amendment was passed, said ‘I would love to do it for rich women, for working class women, but the only place that I can really do it is on Medicaid. Right?”
“They knew that this was about poor women, they knew this was about mostly, particularly on Medicaid, and that most of those women are not white women, that this was black women, brown women who were poor, that they were cutting off the access for those women because those are the ones that they could cut it off for,” Blow said. “The Hyde Amendment has always stood out as this really horrible thing that Democrats continued to support even though they knew who it was affecting. And I’m saying about damn time.”
Watch Porter’s exchange with Maher above, via HBO.
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