"Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Passed"
I am proud to tell the people of Pennsylvania and, indeed, all Americans, that the Senate has won a hard-fought victory for the sanctity of human life. Our success in passing the ban on partial-birth abortion is evidence that the compassion of a just society does indeed extend to those among us who are most innocent and most helpless. My Senate colleagues have joined me in acting responsibly and justly to end a gruesome, unnecessary procedure. I am confident that the House of Representatives will do the same and that President Bush, who has many times expressed his support of our efforts, will sign the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 (S.3) into law.
In three days of debate on the Senate floor, we have concluded a seven-year-long struggle to convince the nation that this form of abortion is never medically required, can be hazardous to the health of a pregnant woman, and is not considered standard practice for obstetricians or gynocologists. It was important, however, that the chamber air this issue before the American people. A subject as emotional for our citizens, as central to our beliefs about the value of life and our duties to protect it, ought to be considered in this forum. Abortion raises questions about our collective moral conscience that deserve the attention and consideration of the lawmakers representing all members of our society. The value of the debate on these ideas is found in the public awareness that begins to take place, an awareness that might change the hearts and minds of women who face the dilemma of whether or not to keep the child they carry.
The threat of a U.S. Supreme Court challenge to the constitutionality of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban is not persuasive. My legislation was specifically authored to mitigate the concerns that the Court had with a Nebraska law prohibiting the partial-birth procedure. In that case, known as Stenberg v. Carhart, the Supreme Court's ruling cited two points of contention, both of which have been addressed in my bill. The language in S.3 applies the law specifically to one rogue form of abortion and it includes documentation to show that the partial-birth procedure is never medically necessary to protect the health of the mother. The margin by which the ban passed the Senate illustrates the strength of our argument against partial-birth abortion. Of those who voted in favor of the ban, many label themselves pro-choice or pro-abortion. Legally, we can all agree that this is a barbaric, unacceptable practice that has no place in a free, democratic country.
Not two months ago, in late January, tens of thousands of Americans came to Washington, D.C. to demonstrate their affirmation of life and their belief that abortion is wrong and the life of a baby is sacred. On that day, my hope for a nation that unequivocally esteems life in all forms was again validated. I witnessed the heart of America, and I firmly believe that heart to be compassionate and devoted to safeguarding the rights of every individual. This is the heart I speak from on the Senate floor, particularly when fighting for those who are most vulnerable in our society. This is also the heart reminding me that when we open ourselves up to loving the children that God gives us, miracles can happen.