In it, but not of it. TPM DC
On Monday he held a press event to mark International Women's Day and call on China to abandon its so-called "one child policy" which Smith says has helped lead the nation to a high suicide rate among its female population.
The policy of coercing women to abort a second child has led, Smith said, to "millions" of young girls and women disappearing, either through murder, kidnapping or human trafficking.
"This is gendercide," Smith said, "the evil twin of genocide."
For close to 10 minutes, Smith railed against Chinese policy toward women, calling on the Obama administration and the UN to make public condemnations of the one child policy and what he said were the "forced abortions" that go along with it.
The UN "needs to make these crimes against women in China a top priority," Smith said. The international body should "assist China in addressing population challenges in ways that respect the rights of women and girls and do not result in massive and gross violations of women's rights."
Smith was joined by a pair international women's rights advocates and a Chinese dissident. The scene was striking -- some might say ironic -- because Smith and the new GOP House majority have spent the past several weeks as enemy-number-one for women's rights groups in America. Smith's H.R. 3, which was cosponsored by many in the GOP caucus, led to a firestorm from pro-choice women in Congress and groups like NOW, which condemned the bill.
The House GOP plan to eliminate all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which became an official part of the party's budget proposal with Smith's vote, also drew fire from women's groups and their Hill allies. The New York Times summed up the House GOP's actions on abortion and Planned Parenthood succinctly, calling the legislative push "The War on Women".
At Monday's press conference, TPM asked Smith about the difference. Why were so many American women's groups targeting him specifically even as he continues to fight for women's rights in China, as he has for years?
"I believe human rights are from womb to tomb," Smith said. "There is no disconnect whatsoever between saying that abortion is violence against children and exploits women everywhere."
"Human rights are for all. And women's rights are human rights," he added. "But that doesn't include forced abortion or looking askance at this terrible crime against women."
"I take a backseat to no one [on women's rights,]" Smith said. "I believe human rights are for all."
He seemed to prefer talking about China.
"All of the feminist groups and all of the pro-life groups and all of us should be with one accord holding the Chinese to account," he said.