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Public Statements

Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 2003

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

PARTIAL-BIRTH ABORTION ACT OF 2003

Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, let me return now to the debate in regard to the partial-birth abortion ban.
Let me thank my colleague from Pennsylvania, Senator Santorum, for his unending and unwavering and tireless efforts to put a permanent end to this horrific partial-birth abortion procedure. In the time we have served together in this body, he has never given up hope that Congress and this country would put an end to this barbaric procedure.
This Senate, this Congress, and this country must ban a procedure that is inhumane, that has absolutely no medical purpose, and that is, quite simply, morally reprehensible.

During the course of the debate on S. 3, the bill to ban partial-birth abortion, we will hear repeated descriptions of the barbaric nature of this procedure. I ask my colleagues, as difficult as it is, to listen to the description. There may be many arguments during this debate, but the description of what this procedure is will not be argued. There is no debate what it is. There is no debate about what takes place during a partial-birth abortion. I submit to my colleagues that the more you know about this procedure, the worse it is. The more you know about it, the easier it will be to vote to ban it.

We will hear repeated descriptions of this barbaric procedure. It is a procedure in which the abortionist pulls a living baby feet first out of the womb and into the birth canal except for the head which the abortionist purposely keeps lodged just inside the cervix. As Senator Santorum explained, the abortionist then punctures the base of the baby's skull with a long scissors-like surgical instrument and then inserts a tube into the wound removing the baby's brain with a powerful suction machine. This causes the skull to collapse, after which the abortionist completes the delivery of the now dead baby.

Mr. President and Members of the Senate, those are the essential facts. I can think of nothing more inhumane and indifferent to the human condition. Yet every year the tragic effect of this extreme indifference to human life becomes more and more apparent. It troubles me deeply that this is happening across this country and that it is happening in my home State of Ohio. In fact, it happens within 20 miles of my home.

I would like to take a few minutes now to talk about two particular partial-birth abortions that occurred in Ohio. They were two typical abortions—typical except for the way they turned out. These two tragedies that I am going to describe illustrate the gruesome facts and the evils of this procedure and show what can happen when it does not go according to the way the abortionist plans. Let me explain.

On April 6, 1999, in Dayton, OH, a woman entered the Dayton Medical Center to undergo a partial-birth abortion. This facility was and is operated by one Dr. Martin Haskell, one of the main providers of partial-birth abortion in the Nation. Usually the partial-birth abortion procedure takes place behind closed doors where it can be ignored—its morality left outside. In this particular case, the procedure was different. There was light shed upon it. This is what happened. This is why light was shown upon it.

This Dayton abortionist inserted a surgical instrument into the woman to dilate her cervix so the child could eventually be removed and then killed. This whole procedure usually takes 3 days.

The woman went home to Cincinnati expecting to return to Dayton for the completion of the procedure in 2 or 3 days. In this case, her cervix dilated too quickly, and as a result shortly after midnight she was admitted to Bethesda North Hospital in Cincinnati.

The child was born. A medical technician pointed out that the child was alive. But apparently the chances of survival were slim, and after 3 hours and 8 minutes the child died. The baby was named Hope.

Mr. President and Members of the Senate, on the death certificate, of course, is a space for cause of death—"Method of Death." There it was written in the case of Baby Hope, "Method of Death: Natural." That, of course, is simply not true. There is nothing natural about the events that led to the death of this tiny little child because Baby Hope did not die of natural causes.

Baby Hope was the victim of a barbaric procedure that is opposed by the vast majority of the American people. In fact, the Gallup poll conducted in January of this year shows that 70 percent of the American people want to see this procedure permanently banned because the American people know it is wrong. They feel strongly about it. And we, as a Senate, and as Members of Congress, I believe, should be listening to the American people.

The death of Baby Hope did not take place behind the closed doors of an abortion clinic. That death took place in public—in a hospital dedicated to saving lives, not taking them.

This episode reminds us of the brutal reality and tragedy of what partial-birth abortion really is. Because what it really is is the killing—the killing—of a baby, plain and simple. And almost to underscore the inhumanity of this procedure, 4 months later it happened again, again in Ohio, with the same abortionist. This time, though, something quite different occurred.
Once again, in Dayton, OH, this time on August 18, 1999, a woman who was 25 weeks pregnant went in to the same Dr. Haskell's office for a partial-birth abortion. As usual, the abortionist performed the preparatory steps for the barbaric procedure by dilating the mother's cervix. The next day, she went into labor, and was rushed to Good Samaritan
Hospital—again, not what was expected. Again, the procedure normally takes 3 whole days. But she was rushed into labor.
But this time, however, despite the massive trauma to this baby's environment, a miracle occurred. And by the grace of God, this little baby survived. So she now is called "Baby Grace."

I am appalled by the fact that both of these heinous partial-birth abortion attempts occurred in this great country of ours, and occurred in my home State of Ohio.

When I think about the brutal death of Baby Hope and then ponder the miracle of Baby Grace, I am confronted with the question, Why can't we just allow these babies to live?

Opponents of the ban on this procedure argue that this procedure is necessary to protect the health of women. And yet, the American Medical Association has said this procedure is never medically necessary. In fact, many physicians have found the procedure itself can pose immediate and significant risk to a woman's health and future fertility. Clearly, the babies did not have to be killed in the Ohio cases I cited, no. The two babies I cited were both born alive. One was able to live and one tragically died.

Why, Mr. President, why, Members of the Senate, does the baby have to be killed? Why?

Opponents of this legislation say this procedure is only used in emergency situations—you will hear those words used time and time again: emergency situations—when women's lives are in danger. And yet it seems very strange that in an emergency, a 3-day procedure would be used and the mother would be sent home. If it was truly an emergency, why would the doctor pick a procedure that would take 3 days? Why would the woman consent to a 3-day procedure if it was truly an emergency? It is not an emergency. And the testimony we have heard, the testimony that has been taken in our committee in the past, has clearly indicated this procedure is never medically indicated—never medically indicated.
Nevertheless, even abortionists say the vast majority of partial-birth abortions are elective. Dr. Haskell, the Ohio abortionist, said this:

And I'll be quite frank; most of my abortions are elective in that 20-24 week range.

This is Dr. Haskell. Let me quote him again:

And I'll be quite frank; most of my abortions are elective in that 20-24 week range.
"Elective."

Opponents of this bill say this procedure is necessary when a fetus is abnormal. I do not believe the condition of a fetus ever warrants killing it. I do not believe that. But even abortionists and some opponents of this ban agree that most partial-birth abortions involve healthy fetuses. And that is what the statistics clearly show.
The inventor of this procedure himself, the late Dr. James McMahon, said:

Gee, it's too bad that this child couldn't be adopted.

Opponents of this bill contend that the partial birth procedure is rare, yet a report released just this past January suggests the number of partial-birth abortions has, in fact, tripled, accounting for an estimated 2,200 abortions in the year 2000.
I have heard it stated on the floor that is just a small fraction of the number of abortions that are performed in this country every year. That may very well be true. Still, statistics would indicate, if we believe the previous statistics, that is a significant increase in the number of partial-birth abortions. And still, whatever the total number of abortions is in this country, that is still 2,200 abortions that occurred in this very barbaric manner in 1 year.

I would again call my colleagues' attention to the description of this procedure. And again, I remind my colleagues that no one—no one—will come to this floor and deny what a partial-birth abortion is. No one will come here and say what Senator Santorum has said, what I have said, what Senator Brownback will say, what any of us are saying about what this procedure is really like, is a lie or is not true. It is what it is, and no one can deny it.

And so 2,200 of these children had to suffer that agony of a partial-birth abortion. That is what the facts are. And there are many people who believe it is underreported. But we know of at least that many.

Opponents say a ban on partial-birth abortion violates Roe v. Wade, and they conclude it must be unconstitutional. But, as anyone who has read that case knows, Roe declined to consider the constitutionality of the part of the Texas statute banning the killing of a child in the process of delivery. Moreover, the Supreme Court again declined to decide this issue in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Again, I ask, why does the baby have to be killed? Why?

Opponents say this bill is unconstitutional because it does not have a health exception. But the American Medical Association itself has stated:

There is no health reason for this procedure.

"There is no health reason for this procedure."

In fact, there is ample testimony to show that all of the health consequences are more severe for this procedure than any other procedure used.

The AMA has also said:

The partial delivery of a living fetus for the purpose of killing it outside the womb is ethically offensive to most Americans and physicians.

I ask my colleagues who wish to continue to allow this heinous act, again, why does the baby have to be killed? Why?
Mr. President and Members of the Senate, why do babies, 3 inches away from their first breath, have to die?

Something is terribly wrong. With the advent of modern technology, we can sustain young life in ways we could not just a few short years ago. We sustain children much younger than the children who are being killed in partial-birth abortions, and they are in hospitals throughout this country. Most of us on the Senate floor have seen these children. And we have seen people, very gallantly, in hospitals fighting to save their lives every day.

Unfortunately, we have created more and more savage methods of killing our young at the same time we are creating wonderful ways to try to continue to keep children alive and save lives.

I think we are really destroying ourselves by not admitting as a society that partial-birth abortion is an evil against humanity. I believe there will be more and more horrible consequences for our Nation if we do not ban this cruel procedure.
As Frederick Douglass stated more than 100 years ago:

Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted. .    .    .

Mr. President, we must stop and ask: To what depths has the American conscience sunk? When it comes to abortion, is there nothing to which we will say: Enough, enough, no, stop; we will not tolerate this. At this point, we will draw the line. At this point, we will go no further.

Partial-birth abortion is a very clear matter of right and wrong, good versus evil. It is my prayer that there will come a day when my colleagues, such as Senator Santorum and the rest of us who have fought this battle, won't have to come to the floor and talk about partial-birth abortion. Nobody wants to talk about this. But until that day comes, when this procedure has been outlawed in our country once and for all, we will have to continue to come to the floor and talk about it. Now is the time to ban this very evil procedure. It is the right thing to do.

I thank the Chair and yield the floor.

Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, I see my colleague from Ohio is in the Chamber so I will not speak very long. I do want to very briefly respond to my friend and colleague from California, if I may. I know we will have ample time the remainder of the week to debate this issue. She is an excellent debater, and I look forward to the chance of continuing this dialogue and this debate as we go forward. I do want to respond very briefly to a couple of her comments.

Quite candidly, listening to my colleague from California, I almost get the impression that partial-birth abortion does not exist in this country or that no one could really define it or even know it when it exists. That is not true. The fact is that people know what it is. They know it takes place. It is counted, at least in one State. There are providers who say: I provide partial-birth abortion. So it is defined, and it is defined very specifically in this bill.

Senator Santorum has worked very hard to have a definition that is a precise definition, and I might say that it is a more precise definition, a better definition, a definition that conforms to what the Supreme Court has said, a better definition than the previous bill taken up on the Senate floor. It is taking into consideration what the Supreme Court has said. I will read a portion of that definition to my colleagues.

As used in this section, 1, the term "partial-birth abortion" means an abortion in which, A, the person performing the abortion deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living fetus until, in the case of a head-first presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother, or, in the case of breech presentation, any part of fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother for the purpose of performing an overt act that the person knows will kill the partially delivered living fetus; and, B, performs the overt act, other than completion of delivery, that kills the partially delivered living fetus.

Then it continues on and defines physician, et cetera. But that is the key part. That is a very precise definition. So I would reject the argument that this is vague. It is not vague. It is very well understood.

Turning to another point my colleague from California made, that has to do with the health of the mother, we had the opportunity to listen to a great deal of testimony in the past, and we have also had a lot of people who have talked about this issue. We will have the opportunity to debate this tomorrow and the days after. I am not going to quote a lot of people tonight because of the time, but the testimony has been very clear that this is not ever medically indicated. It is not something that is done in an emergency. One does not perform a procedure that takes 3 days in an emergency; something else is done. An emergency is not a 3-day procedure. Make no mistake about it, all the testimony has been that the partial-birth abortion takes 3 days. That is not an emergency procedure. It simply is not.

Let me quote former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop:

Partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary to protect a mother's health or her fertility. On the contrary, this procedure can pose a significant threat to both.

Dr. Warren Hern, OB/GYN:

I have very serious reservations about this procedure. You really cannot defend it. I would dispute any statement that this is the safest procedure to use.

The physicians Ad Hoc Coalition For Truth said the following:

Given the many potential risks the procedure entails the mother, far from being medically indicated, partial-birth abortion is actually contra-indicated.

Dr. Pamela Smith, OB/GYN, said the following:

Partial birth is, in fact, a public health hazard in regards to women. Medically, I would contend, of all the abortion techniques available to a woman, this is the worst one which could be recommended in the situation of a mother's health.

Dr. Dominic Casanova, OB/GYN:

This procedure is totally unnecessary and dangerous. If it becomes necessary to evacuate a uterus beyond 20 weeks gestation, there is a recognized standard method taught in all OB/GYN training programs which involves another procedure.
It goes on and on. I will not take the Senate's time tonight. We will have an opportunity tomorrow to debate this. This is not medically indicated. The testimony has been abundantly clear. This is not a procedure that is ever used for the health of the mother.

I yield the floor.

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