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Public Statements

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban of 2003 (Continued)

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, this is the third time I have taken the opportunity to talk about partial-birth abortion, and each time I have addressed the Members of the Senate, I have tried to cite some of the medical experts in this field.

It has been pointed out that, with the exception of one Member of the Senate, we are not doctors. I certainly am not a doctor, but I have tried to cite the experts and have tried to help build a record for anyone who looks at the proceedings to help them understand what the basis for the Senate's ultimate decision will be. I want to continue that practice tonight.
It is certainly true, as has been pointed out on the Senate floor, that we did not hold hearings on this bill, but over the last few years, we have had a series of hearings in both the Senate and the House of Representatives on this very issue. We have heard many witnesses. We not only have had the opportunity to hear the witnesses in the Senate and the House in the Judiciary Committees, but we also, of course, have had the opportunity to read journals, read news articles, and other sources of information.

Very briefly, what I would like to do tonight is add to some of the citations I have already made and talk about the question that my colleagues have been talking about, and that is whether or not partial-birth abortion is ever medically indicated. I submit to my colleagues the evidence is very clear that partial-birth abortion is not medically indicated. It is never medically indicated. Therefore, a medical exception is simply not needed.

It is important to cite what several OB/GYN doctors have said about this horrific procedure. These medical doctors, these experts, will tell us this abortion procedure is brutal, it threatens the life of the mother, and it is just plain unnecessary and inhumane.

I will take a few minutes tonight to read to my colleagues some of the testimony from doctors who, for years, have been saying this procedure is, in fact, wrong. In a House of Representatives hearing on September 27, 1995, these doctors testified that partial-birth abortion is not sound science. I ask my colleagues to listen to what several of them had to say.
First, Dr. Donna Harrison, then the chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Lakeland Medical Center in Michigan, stated:

There is no data or any proposed reliable data to show that this has a lesser incidence of maternal morbility or mortality than the standard prostaglandin termination. Indeed, any surgeon can tell you that when you put a sharp instrument into a body cavity, there is a always the risk of perforating that organ. As an obstetrician, I can testify that this procedure has no medical indication over standard, recognized and tested procedures for terminating a pregnancy.

It is a hideous travesty of medical care and should rightly be banned in this country.

Dr. Pamela Smith, former Director of Medical Education, Department of OB/GYN, at Mt. Siani Medical Center in Chicago and a member of the Association of Professors of Obstetrics, had this to say:

Partial-birth abortion is not a standard for care for anything. In fact, partial-birth abortion is a perversion of a well-known technique .    .    . used by obstetricians to deliver that is considered to impose a significant risk to maternal health when it is used to deliver a baby alive, suddenly become the "safe method of choice" when the goal is to kill the baby? In short, there are absolutely no obstetrical situations encountered in this country, which require a partially delivered human fetus to be destroyed to preserve the life or health of the mother.

When I described the procedure of partial-birth abortion to physicians who I know to be pro-choice, many of them were horrified to learn that such procedure was even legal.

Dr. Nancy Romer, then a Clinical Associate Professor at Wright State University and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics at Miami Valley Hospital in Ohio, said this:

There is simply no data anywhere in the medical literature in regard to the safety of this procedure. There is no peer review or accountability of this procedure. There is no medical evidence that the partial-birth abortion procedure is safer or necessary to provide comprehensive health care for women.
    
To add to this, Dr. Lewis Marola, then Chair of the Department of Obstetrics at St. Clare's Hospital in Schenectady, NY, said the following:

The conversion of a fetus presenting a vertex to a breech position, as in the partial-birth abortion, is capable of causing an abrubtion of the placenta and amniotic fluid embolism. This is a dangerous and life-threatening situation. Never, ever, in our 30 years of practice, have my colleagues or I seen a situation which warrants the implementation of partial-birth abortion. Personally, I cannot imagine why a practitioner would want to resort to such barbaric techniques when other, recognized methods are available.
    
Dr. Joseph DeCook, once a Fellow at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said the following at a press briefing in 1996:
    
Reaching into the uterus to pull the baby feet first through the cervix—the second step [of the procedure]—"is a very dangerous procedure," "frightening" because of the chance that it might "tear the uterus." This is the "reason it was abandoned 30 or more years ago." There is also the danger of "perforating the uterus" with the instrument used to grab the baby's leg. Such a tear or perforation could result in severe hemorrhage, necessitating immediate hysterectomy to save the life of the mother.
    
Dr. Cutis Cook, from the Michigan State College of Human Medicine, said this:
    
To my knowledge, and in my experience, this particular procedure described as partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary to preserve the life or future fertility of the mother and may, in fact, threaten her health or well-being or future fertility. In my opinion—and, I think, in the opinion of the medical literature and other specialists in my field—the fact remains that there are choices and there are alternatives to the partial-birth abortion procedure that do not require the use of what has now been demonstrated as a potentially dangerous and completely unstudied and unnecessary procedure.
    
I can go on, but the testimony from medical doctors is very clear. They know in their heart and in their minds that this procedure is not appropriate. It is never necessary. I would like to conclude tonight with what Dr. Joseph DeCook once said. He said that the partial-birth abortion procedure "sounds like science fiction. It ought to be science fiction."
    
I think that says it all. The testimony from these medical doctors is very clear. I have cited other doctors the other two times I have been in the Chamber, and when I come back later, I will cite other doctors. But the evidence is abundantly clear that partial-birth abortion, as my colleague from Pennsylvania has pointed out, is never medically indicated. At no time have the proponents of this procedure been able to come to the floor and cite any specific example where anyone has been able to say that it was truly medically indicated.
    
I yield the floor.

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