PARTIAL-BIRTH ABORTION BAN ACT OF 2003
Mrs. CLINTON. Madam President, I thank my friend from Iowa. I thank him for introducing this important sense-of-the-Senate resolution amendment that will reaffirm Roe v. Wade, making it very clear that the policy of this Senate is for abortion to be legal, safe, and rare.
But I have to confess I am somewhat bewildered that we are having this debate at this time in our Nation's history.
Obviously, the Republican leadership here in the Senatealong with the House and the White Househas made a choice. Of all the grave challenges facing our Nation at this moment in history, we want to work together to criminalize a private medical decision made by women and their physician. With so much at stake, and when our economic security, national security, and domestic security are at stake, I believe that is an unusual and, in my view, a misguided choice.
Today, 300,000 men and women wearing the uniform of our military stand in harm's way in the Persian Gulf. The other day we learned that Iran has progressed at an alarming rate for developing its own nuclear weapon capacity. North Korea continues to lob both rhetoric and missiles to demonstrate that it is wanting to be taken seriously as to the threat it poses to our immediate, imminent security.
Thousands of Americans continue to fight against al-Qaida in Afghanistan and search for Osama bin Laden. With so many American lives on the line, the Republican leadership has decided to spend its time working to criminalize a medical procedure that is used in very few cases and only when the health and safety of the woman is at stake.
Today, we know with all of these global uncertainties that we have a deepening economic crisis made worse because of the potential for war. Last month, we lost 312,000 private sector jobsthe steepest decline since the days following the attack of September 11. Consumer confidence has dropped to its lowest level since October 1993. The number of Americans who have been out of work for 6 months or longer has climbed to nearly 2 million. February marked the 20th consecutive month the private sector experienced negative job growththe longest stretch of negative job growth since World War II.
With so many American families struggling to make ends meet until they can find work, the Republican leadership has made the choice to debate how best to criminalize a private medical decision made by women and their doctors.
Just last week, we learned the Federal budget crisis is far worse than was previously reported. The deficit is at a record $304 billion and climbing. Projections to eliminate our debt by 2008 have been replaced with new projections that have our debt level rising to historic highs.
You know about the $5.6 trillion surplus this administration inherited. It is gone, along with our Social Security and Medicare trust funds. Out in our States, our States, our cities, and our counties are facing incredibly difficult economic times. The States are facing a combined budget deficit of $85 billionthe worst financial crisis in a generation. We still have billions and billions of dollars of unmet homeland security needs.
With so much uncertainty here at home, the Republican leadership has made the choice to debate how best to criminalize a medical procedure for women.
I have to ask myself: Why was this moment chosen for this debate? Why aren't we debating the steps we could take to help the 8.5 million Americans who are out of work? Why aren't we debating how we can get our Federal budget back on the road to balance and begin to diminish these overwhelming deficits and this increasing debt load we will leave on the backs of our children?
Why are we not debating the necessity of our paying our bills? Why are we not debating what needs to happen if and when those 300,000 men and women in the military in the Persian Gulf are called to action, and in the days that would follow a military victory?
As I travel around, talking with people in my State, that is what they talk to me about: What about this war, Senator CLINTON? What is going to happen after a war, if it happens? What about homeland security? Are we as safe as we need to be here at home? Senator, what can we do about the jobs that are disappearing, the stagnant economy? How on Earth can we deal with this overwhelming budget deficit? What about not funding No Child Left Behind and the burdens that are being put on public education as a result? When are we going to get around to a prescription drug benefit for our seniors who are suffering and having to face these large bills? What are we doing to protect our environment? We are, after all, stewards of our natural environment for future generations.
Those are the questions I am being asked. Not only do I believe this is an inappropriate and unfortunate time for this debate to be occurring, but I find it deeply ironic that it is taking place in the month of March, Women's History Month.
Apparently, some people believe that the purpose of Women's History Month is to literally bring us back to a time in history when women had no choices. Instead of celebrating our accomplishments and improving the health and safety of women in the United States and internationally, there are those who would put women's health at risk.
But if we are to debate this emotional issue, then we must do so with great carecare about the words we use and the laws we write. Every time we use inflammatory language in this Chamber, it limits our ability to talk about this very private, personal decision between a woman, her loved ones, and her doctor.
Emotions run high with this issue. And I deeply appreciate my good friend from Nevada and the way he acknowledged we have very serious differences. But this is not a place nor is this a subject where we should be using language as a weapon to divide Americans.
So I am very concerned about some of the words I have heard used on this floor over the last several days. "Execution," "murder"those are very inflammatory words that do not do justice to this great Chamber, nor to the seriousness of this debate.
I am also concerned about some of the visual aids that have been used by some of my colleagues. They are as deceptive as they are heartbreaking. Because what do they show? They show a perfectly formed fetus, and that is misleading. Because if we are really going to have this debate, then we should have a chart that demonstrates the tragic abnormalities that confront women forced with this excruciatingly difficult decision. Where are the swollen heads? Where are the charts with fetuses with vital organs such as the heart and the lungs growing outside the body? Why would we choose not to demonstrate the reality of what confronts the women I know, women who come with medical diagnoses that have said the brain in the head is so swollen that the child, the fetus, your baby, is basically brain dead? Now, it can be kept alive because it is on life support in the mother's body, but let me tell you what the realities are: these children cannot live outside the womb for more than mere seconds or minutes. That is what these women hear when they go in for their medical examinations and get the worst news that any potential mother could receive.
So a picture is worth a thousand words, as long as it is a realistic picture about what it is we are confronting, because a large part of this debate is about words, the words that are left out of this bill: the health and well-being of the mother.
The way this bill is written, the choice of language eliminates the distinction of trimesters. The vagueness makes this bill applicable to many other procedures in addition to the ones explicitly named. This bill is extreme, deceptive, and unconstitutional.
As my colleague from Pennsylvania stated: This is the beginning of the end. And that is absolutely what he means. If this bill passes, it is the beginning of the end of Roe v. Wade, it is the beginning of the end of the right of women in this country to make the most personal and intimate decisions that any of us would ever be called upon to make.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to sit down with several women who have gone through this terribly difficult decision. What was so sad about each of these women's stories was how much each of them wanted the child they were carryingonly to learn that a fatal abnormality had inflicted each one, creating an unshakable sorrow. Each woman knew that her baby would not live long in utero or for no more than seconds or minutes outside her womb.
One of the women in my office told such a sad tale of what had happened to her and her husband. After trying so hard to become pregnant, they were thrilled when she discovered she was pregnant. But her happiness quickly turned to grief when doctors explained that her daughter had a genetic syndrome called Trisomy 13.
Now, many fetuses with Trisomy 13 die in utero. And those who survive birth do not live for long.
Her choice was not easy, and it was a choice she made with professional medical advice and with her family.
This young woman, Audrey Eisen, a Ph.D. student, articulated her concern perfectly when she wrote:
Along with my sadness came a realization that if such legislation passed the right to safe second trimester termination of pregnancies might not remain available to those women who come after me. In this event, I don't know how these women will endure; I don't know how I would have endured.
I also met with Maureen Britell yesterday. Her daughter had developed a disorder where the brain stem develops. It is a disorder instead of a brain. After consulting with the experts at New England Medical Center, her family, and friends, she terminated her pregnancy. And listen to what she says:
Now I'm sharing my story not only as a mother who would be banned from having an abortion, but as a military wife. I find the timing of this bill highly offensive, as we military families are just days away from sending our loved ones into armed combat. I resent the administration using families like mine as a cloak in their effort to ban reproductive health care in this country.
Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the full statements of both of these women be printed in the RECORD.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
AUDREY EISEN IN OPPOSITION TO S. 3
I believe that I am not atypical34 years old and desperately wanting children. My husband and I are both graduate students, pursuing our PhDs in physics and microbiology, respectively. Tom and I have been together for eight years, married for four, and trying to have a baby for two. In November of 2002, after successfully fighting hormone-related infertility and experiencing the sadness of a miscarriage in July, we were thrilled to find ourselves pregnant!
While still apprehensive, we consciously decided to be excitedanother loss would hurt just the same, regardless of whether or not we had allowed ourselves to be happy. In the first few months, my endocrinologist performed ultrasounds about every week and a half to ensure that the embryo was developing normally. It was such a treat to be able to see our child growing. I keep the pictures and my thoughts in a pregnancy journal.
When it became evident that we were going to make it through the first trimester, my endocrinologist referred me to an obstetrician (OB). At my first appointment the nurse put a Doppler to my belly and, much to my amazement, from a seemingly great distance I hear the characteristic "whoosh" of my child's heartbeat. We were on top of the world thinking that, for sure, this one was going to make it.
At 13 weeks we had a special ultrasound scheduled. Upon examination of the fetal anatomy we discovered that the child had polydactyly (more than the normal number of digits). While at first we thought it was just the hands, we later learned that the feet were affected as well. At the time, my husband and I thought that this was no big dealwe had both known people with an extra finger. However, we soon found out that polydactyly is associated with over 100 syndromes, most commonly Trisomy 13.
Trisomy 13 is a chromosomal abnormality in which there are three, rather than two, of the 13th chromosome. This syndrome is characterized by multiple abnormalities, many of which are not compatible with life beyond a couple of months. Most fetuses with Trisomy 13 die in utero; of those who make it to birth, almost half do not survive past the first month; roughly three-quarters die within 6 months. Long-term survival is one year. Unfortunately, neither life nor death come easily for these childrentheirs is a painful experience marked by periods of breathing cessation (apnea) and seizures. Because my OB was unable to get a good image of the brain during the 13th week ultrasound, we returned at 15 weeks.
The first thing my OB examined during this ultrasound was the fetal brain. He did not say anything. I could tell he was holding something back and asked that he tell me what he saw. He said, "It is not normal." The rest of the scan was a blur as tears ran down my cheeks and those of my mother and husband, who had accompanied me. Following the scan, the doctor left us alone to compose ourselves, after which we met with a genetic counselor. I cried with my whole body, from the depths of my soul.
Shortly thereafter, I had amniocentesis. My doctor informed us that the full amnio results would take two weeks, but we could have FISH (fluorescence in situ hybridization) results in a couple of days. We had both studies done. The FISH results were as expected; our baby had Trisomy 13.
At this point we discussed our options with the genetic counselor. My husband and I both felt strongly that it was in both the child's and our best interest to terminate as quickly as possible. The genetic counselor told us that we could either have a D&E or be induced. My doctor described both procedures, and we decided that a D&E was clearly best for me. The procedure was performed four days later, on the first day of my 16th week of pregnancy.
Upon arriving home from the hospital following my D&E, a news story appeared on the television describing new legislation in the state senate aimed at banning "partial birth abortion." I don't think that I really understood this issue, emotionally or intellectually, until I was in the position of having to terminate my much-desired pregnancy. Along with my sadness came a realization that if such legislation passed the right to safe second trimester termination of pregnancies might not remain available to those women who come after me. In this event, I don't know how these women will endure; I don't know how I would have endured.
Two weeks following the procedure, we received a letter from the genetic counselor with the full results of the amnio and a summary of the ultrasonic findings. Our child had a complete duplication of the 13th chromosome and exhibited holoprosencephaly, a failure of the forebrain to properly develop and separate from the rest of the brain, a ventricular septal defect in the heart, and omphalocele, a herniation of a portion of the abdominal organs into the umbilical cord. Our child was also a girl and we miss her very much. In our case, abortion was the only choice.
STATEMENT BY MAUREEN BRITELL ON S. 3
In February 1994, my family was happily awaiting the birth of Dahlia, our second daughter. My pregnancy was progressing smoothly and we were getting more excited as the days and weeks passed. At the time, my husband, Andrew, was on active duty in the Air Force and had been unable to come to any of my routine prenatal checkups. He wanted to share in the excitement, so when I was five months pregnant, we scheduled an additional ultrasound.
When we went in for our appointment, that joy dissipated. The technician was unable to locate my daughter's brain. After my doctor came in, he informed us that Dahlia had a fatal anomaly called anencephaly, where the brain stem develops, but not the brain.
I went to the New England Medical Center for a high level sonogram, which confirmed what my doctor had told me. The medical experts at the New England Medical Center reviewed our options with Andrew and me, but they all recommended the same thing: to protect my health, we should induce labor.
I am a Catholic and the idea of ending my pregnancy was beyond my imagination. I turned to my parish priest for guidance. He counseled me for a long time, and in the end, he agreed that there was nothing more I could do to help my daughter. With the support of our families and our priest, Andrew and I made the decision to end the pregnancy.
I was scheduled for a routine induction abortion in which medications are used to induce labor. My doctors anticipated that it would be a standard delivery and that because Dahlia had no brain she would die as soon as the umbilical cord was cut. After 13 long hours of labor, I started to deliver Dahlia. Unexpectedly, complications arose and Dahlia lodged in my birth canal. The placenta would not drop. Our doctors had to cut the umbilical cord to complete the delivery, and avoid serious health consequences for me. Dahlia died while still in my birth canalthe same description used in the so-called "partial birth abortion."
My husband and I still mourn the loss of Dahlia. However, because of the excellent medical care I received, I was able to become pregnant again and in June 1995, we welcomed Nathaniel into our family.
Now I'm sharing my story not only as a mother who would be banned from having an abortion, but as a military wife. I find the timing of his bill highly offensive, as we military families are just days away from sending our loved ones into armed combat. I resent the administration using families like mine as a cloak in their effort to ban reproductive healthcare in this country.
In a perfect world, I would never have to write you this letter. Every pregnancy would be wanted, healthy and happyand no loved ones would be going off to war. Until that time, however, there will be other families like mine. And until that time, abortion must be kept safe, legal and accessible.
Mrs. CLINTON. Now, if these bills were to pass, each of these women would have been forced to carry their babies to term, only to see a child with such severe abnormalities die upon or shortly after birth. Their choices would have been limited not because of their moral and religious beliefswhich I deeply respectnor because of their medical advicewhich I can't possibly second-guessbut because of their Government.
I have to respectfully disagree with my colleagues about mental health. If we have learned anything in the last several decades, it is that there is no artificial divide between mental and physical health. The mind and the body are a totally integrated system. One affects the other. I believe that mental health is health. And I believe that forcing a woman to carry a child she knows will die is an assault not only on her mental health but on our values as a nation and a free people.
Part of the reason I feel so strongly about this is because as First Lady, I had the great privilege of traveling around the world representing our country. I have been to many places I never thought I would have gone in the past. I have seen what happens in other countries. I listened to women throughout the world.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has used 15 minutes.
Mr. HARKIN. I yield an additional 5 minutes to the Senator from New York.
Mrs. CLINTON. I have listened to women throughout the world who have struggled against government regimes that forced them to bear children or to abort them. The decision was taken totally out of their hands. It was left to chambers such as this to make those most personal and intimate of decisions. I will give you a few quick examples.
In pre-democratic Romania, they had a leader named Ceausescu, a Soviet style Communist dictator, who decided it was the duty of every Romanian woman to bear five children so they could build the Romanian State. So they eliminated birth control, they eliminated sex education, and they outlawed abortions.
Here is what happened to you if you were a woman in Romania during the Ceausescu regime: Once a month you would be rounded up at your workplace. You would be taken to a government-controlled health clinic. You would be told to disrobe while you were standing in line. You would get up on the table. You would be examined by a government doctor with a government secret police officer watching. And if you were pregnant, you would be monitored to make sure you didn't do anything to that pregnancy.
When I first heard this, I was dumbfounded. I said: "Please, that cannot be true."
That is what happened. If a woman failed to conceive, her family was fined a celibacy tax of up to 10 percent of their monthly salary.
The terrible result was many children were born who were abandoned, who were left to be raised in government-run orphanages. We all know what happened when unfortunately HIV-tainted blood was used to help some of those children for medical reasons, and there was a huge outbreak of HIV/AIDS among these Romanian orphans.
Now go to the opposite side of the world and the opposite side of this debate. In China, local government officials used to monitor women's menstrual cycles and their use of contraceptives because they had the opposite viewno more than one child. So whether it was Romania saying you have to have children for the good of the state, or China saying you can only have one child for the good of the state, the government was telling us what we were supposed to do with our bodies.
If you wanted to have a child in China, you needed to get permission or face punishment. After you had your one allotted child, in some parts of China, you could be sterilized against your will or forced to have an abortion.
Today women in Romania and China are working to ensure their countries' family planning practices are voluntary and respectful of individual rights.
I don't think we could dismiss these examples. I have seen where government gets this kind of power, it can be quickly misused. The old standard maxim by Lord Acton: Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
I raise these issues not because they are part of the past or because they happened somewhere far away, but because I can guarantee you, standing here as a Senator, if we go down this path, you are going to have the same kind of overzealous, interfering prosecutors and police officials doing the very same kinds of things in this country.
Why did we ever have to do Roe v. Wade to begin with? Some States like mine, let abortion, as long as it was done safely and legally, occur under certain circumstances before Roe. Why did we have to have a Supreme Court decision? We had to have it because in many parts of the country these kinds of decisions were not permitted to be made by individual women.
Look at the progress we have made. The U.S. abortion rate is now at the lowest level it has been since 1974. When I was First Lady, I helped to launch the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. We increased education and public awareness. And since 1991, teen pregnancy has also declined. We learned that prevention and education, teaching people to make good decisions, really did work. But that is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about those few rare cases.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's 5 minutes have expired.
Mr. HARKIN. I yield the Senator an additional 5 minutes.
Mrs. CLINTON. We are talking about those few rare cases when a doctor had to look across a desk at a woman and say, I hate to tell you this, but the baby you wanted, the baby you care so much about, that you are carrying, has a terrible abnormality.
We had a chance yesterday to build on these successes and do even more for women's health and to prevent unwanted and unsafe pregnancies. Senator Murray's amendment would have increased access to contraceptive coverage by ensuring basic fairness for women in preventing health plans from discriminating against contraceptive coverage in their prescription drug plans. Yet my colleagues did not vote for that. They would much rather criminalize a health procedure than improve women's health. Senator Murray's amendment would have also provided Medicaid and CHIP coverage for pregnant women and their newborns. Yet again, we defeated that on a budget point of order because we are not really interested in women's health. That is not really what this debate is about.
I have to ask myself, why do we, as government officials, expect we can make these decisions? We know that people of means will always be able to get any health care procedure they deem necessary. That is the way it was before Roe v. Wade. That is the way it will be after this passes the Senate.
So who are we really leaving out? We are leaving out the vast majority of American women, middle income women, working women who can't get on an airplane to go to Sweden or some other place. I have also seen the results of that. In a hospital in northeast Brazil, a woman's hospital I visited, I went up and down the corridors. Half the women were there for the most wonderful of reasons, because they just had a baby. The other half were there because of problems they had encountered, mostly because of botched back-alley, illegal abortions. Some of them lost their fertility forever; some of them lost their lives.
When I asked the minister of health what they were going to do about this, he said to me: This is a classic case where it is the poor, the middle class that suffer. The rich can get whatever health care they need. We can make it illegal to get abortions. That doesn't bother the rich. There has always been a double standard. If you are rich, you get what you need. If you are poor, you are left to the back alleys.
That is one of the other reasons we had to do Roe v. Wade, because is it fair that we have that kind of distinction made on the basis of class or income instead of the basis of law?
We are facing a moment of historic importance, but not about what we should be debating at this time in our history. I only wish this legislation were not before us. But now that it is, we have to educate the American public.
I will end by referring again to the young woman, Mrs. Eisen, who was in my office yesterday, about 25 years younger than I am. Hard to imagine. She said: I had no idea that the decision I made with my husband and my doctor to deal with this genetic abnormality was something I could have never had under the laws of where I lived before, and that if this passes, it will become illegal in the future.
I said: Well, you didn't have to think about that. That was something that, thankfully, we took off the national agenda. But there are those who, from very deeply held beliefs, which I respect, would wish to substitute the Government's decision, just like they did in Romania and China, or substitute the roll of the economic dice, such as happens in Brazil and elsewhere for what should be a difficult, painful, intimate, personal decision.
This bill is not only ill-advised, it is also unconstitutional. I understand what the other side wants to do. They are hoping to get somebody new on the Supreme Court and to turn the clock back completely, to overrule Roe v. Wade, which is why the Senator from Iowa has such a timely amendment.
Is this bill really about what the sponsors say, or is it, as they candidly admit, the beginning of the endto go back in this country to back-alley abortions, to women dying from botched, illegal procedures? I think you can draw your own conclusions.
It is up to the American public to determine whether they want medical decisions being criminalized by this Senate. Thank
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
Mr. SANTORUM. Will the Senator yield for a question?
Mrs. CLINTON. Yes, on the Senator's time.
Mr. SANTORUM. Yes. The Senator from New York said that the women she had in her office who had late-term abortionsyou characterized it that they would be "forced to carry their children to term" if this bill passed. Do you stand by that statement?
Mrs. CLINTON. Yes, I do.
Mr. SANTORUM. So you believe if this legislation passes outlawing partial-birth abortion, no late-term abortions would
Mrs. CLINTON. That is what I believe based on what I consider to be the slippery slope of the legislative language that
you have carefully and cleverly crafted in this bill.
Mr. SANTORUM. OK. I suggest that the Senator from New York examine the language. It is very clear that this is one particular kind of abortion we have addressed, and we have addressed the vagueness, as put forth by the U.S. Supreme Court. And there are other techniques available for abortion that are late term in nature, and this bill would in no way stop other abortions. In fact, the previous speaker on the Democrat side, Senator Kennedy, made that very point. He made the point that this will not stop abortions.
I respect your feelings and I also respect Senator Kennedy's. You both oppose the bill and you have opposite opinions on
Mrs. CLINTON. Will the Senator permit me to respond to his statement?
Mr. SANTORUM. Yes.
Mrs. CLINTON. I heard the Senator from Massachusetts referencing the fact that, legal or illegal, this is not going to
prevent abortions where they are necessary.
My reading of the legislative language you have put forth, makes a very clear argument that this is a slippery slope; that there are going to be not only difficulties in defining procedures, but the fact is that once you have criminalized this procedure, what doctor will perform any medically necessary procedure? There is no reason to believe any doctor would put his practice and his life at risk.
As we know right now, a trial is going on in Buffalo, NY, for the murder of a doctor who provided such services.
Mr. SANTORUM. I thank the Senator. I gave her an opportunity to answer, and I have a couple more questions. No. 1, you suggested that this procedure was extreme. Does the Senator know the most recent Gallup pollsthe polls consistently have shown that the banning of this procedure is supported by anywhere from 65 to 75 percent of the American public? What is your definition of "extreme"?
Mrs. CLINTON. I respond to the Senator from Pennsylvania that I think it is extreme when the Government prescribes medical procedures that maydespite their not being ones that most of us would ever hope to have experienced by any loved onebe necessary in certain specific events, that were medically determined.
Mr. SANTORUM. So you would suggest that something that is supported byyou are going to maintain your comment that something that is supported by 70 percent of the American public is extreme?
Mrs. CLINTON. Well, I think the Senator from Pennsylvania is posing a false syllogism. Clearly, if people are told in a poll about the kinds of procedures that might be medically necessary out of context, I can certainly understand why the reaction might be that is not something that we want to talk about, not something we want to think about. But what I do think is extreme is making a decision in this body to outlaw a medical procedure that may be required and medically necessary.
Mr. SANTORUM. So you don't think the American public understands this issue well enough to be able to form a judgmentI think that is what you are sayingeven though we have debated this issue and it has been very much in the literature across America now for 7 years. There have been referendums in States and wide debate. You just don't think the public understands it. I beg to differ with you on that. I think I could stipulate that something that has the support of 70 percent of the public is, by definition, not extreme. So if you don't agree, that is your position, and I respect that.
The other thing you said was the chart I had up is "deceptive." I am very curious about how you came to that conclusion. Is it deceptive because it shows a perfectly formed baby?
Is the Senator aware of Ron Fitzsimmons who runs the Association of Abortion Clinics? He has said, when the argument was made by many of the people Senator Boxer and Senator Murray and yourself referred to, who came forward and talked about this being medically necessary or necessary because of complications late in pregnancyRon Fitzsimmons said he lied through his teeth when he gave that argument? That was his term. He said, "I lied through my teeth" that this was the case. He said it is a dirty little secret, and we all knowthose are his termsthat late-term abortions are performed, and the vast majority of late-term abortions are performed on healthy mothers with healthy babies.
So do you believe it is deceptive to put before the American public the typical case of where a partial-birth abortion is performed, or would it be more deceptive to try to convince the American public that this is done for medical reasons, or on sick babies in the majority of cases, when it is not true?
Which would you say is more deceptive?
Mrs. CLINTON. You know, on the Senator's point, I am not arguing against any public education effort, any proselytizing, any means whatsoever to persuade people about what choice they should make. I don't, in fact, think that we have done enough to educate the public about reproductive health, about how to prevent unsafe and unwanted pregnancies, about how to improve contraception, and about what is really at stake in this debate over a women's right to make decisions about her own reproductive health. But for the Senator to imply that there are never instances of abnormalities and problems like the ones represented by the women in my office yesterday, which would be outlawed by your legislation, I believe is deceptive.
We could solve this, as we have now for 20, 30 years, by saying this is a debate that does not belong in the United States Senate. It belongs in the hearts, minds, consciences of women and their loved ones, and in the medical offices of America, not the U.S. Senate.
Mr. SANTORUM. I will challenge you to find anyplace in the record over the last 7 years where I said that was never the case. I have never said there are not difficult cases. What I have said repeatedly, because I wanted to be truthful with respect to the factual situations with which we are presented on the issue of late-term abortions and the instances in which partial-birth abortions are usedI refer the Senator to the State of Kansas where they have to report the reason for a partial-birth abortion; 182 were done last year, or the year before, and of those 182, nonezerowere done because of a problem with the child or a physical problem with the mother. They were classified as mental health.
So I suggest to the Senator that those in the abortion industry themselves say this is the typical procedure on the typical baby. There may beand there area small number of cases that are late-term where you find out the child within the womb has a fetal abnormality and may not live. I just suggestand you used the termwhere is the brainless head? Where are the lungs outside the body? I will just say I will be happy to put a child with a disability up there. But, frankly, I don't see the difference in my mindand I am not too sure the public doeswith respect to that being any less of a child.
It is still a child, is it not? Maybe it is a child that is not going to live long, but do we consider
Mrs. CLINTON. Will the Senator yield?
Mr. SANTORUM. In a moment. Do we consider a child that may not live long, or may have an abnormality, to be less of a child? Is this less of a human because it is not perfect? Have we reached the point in our society where because perfection is so required of us, that those who are not perfect don't even deserve the opportunity to live for however long they are ticketed to live in this country?
Are we saying we need these kinds of infanticides to weed out those who are not going to survive or those who are not perfect, and that somehow or another we have to have a method available that we only allow perfect children to be born? If that is the argument, I am willing to stand here and have that debate. If that is what you want us to show, I am willing to stand and show that.
I suggest this is the typical abortion that goes with partial-birth. That is exactly what the industry says is the case. If the Senator would like me to find a child that has a cleft palate, I can do that. That doctor from Ohio performs a lot of abortions. He says he did nine in one year because of that. If she would like me to show a case of spina bifida, I can do that. That may be a reason someone has to have a late-term abortion.
I would be happy to show those, but those are the exception rather than the rule, and I think it is imperative
Mrs. CLINTON. Will the Senator yield?
Mr. HARKIN. Will the Senator yield for a question?
Mr. SANTORUM. I will be happy to. It is imperative upon us to present the standard, the predominant case in which
partial-birth abortions are done, and that is what we are doing. I will be happy to yield for a question.
Mrs. CLINTON. The Senator from Iowa got in first.
Mr. HARKIN. Go ahead. The Senator is engaged in debate. I have a question.
Mr. SANTORUM. Fine.
Mrs. CLINTON. Does the Senator's legislation make exceptions for serious life-threatening abnormalities or babies who are
in such serious physical condition that they will not live outside the womb?
Mr. SANTORUM. No, if
Mrs. CLINTON. That is the point.
Mr. SANTORUM. I understand the Senator's point. I guess my point in rebuttal is that if you want to create a separation
in the law between those children who are perfect and those children who are not
Mrs. CLINTON. No
Mr. SANTORUM. Please, let me finish. If a child is not perfect, then that child can be aborted under any circumstances. But if that child is perfect, we are going to protect that child more. I do not think the Americans with Disabilities Act would fit very well into that definition. The Americans with Disabilities Actof which I know the Senator from Iowa has been a great advocate, and I respect him greatly for itsays we treat all of God's children the same. We look at allperfect and imperfectas creatures of God created in his image.
What the Senator from New York is asking me to do is separate those who are somehow not the way our society sees people as they should be today and put them somewhat a peg below legal protection than the perfect child. I hope the Senator is not recommending that because I think that would set a horrible precedent that could be extrapolated, I know probably to the disgust of the Senator from Iowa, certainly to me.
No, I do not have an exception in this legislation that says if you are perfect, this cannot happen to you; but if you are not perfect, yes, this can occur. The Senator is right, I do not.
Mrs. CLINTON. To respond, if I could, to the Senator from Pennsylvania, my great hope is that abortion becomes rarer and rarer. I would only add that during the 1990s, it did, and we were making great progress. These decisions, in my view, have no place in the law, so they should not be drawing distinctions in the law. This ought to be left to the family involved.
The very fact the Senator from Pennsylvania does not have such a distinction under any circumstances, I think, demonstrates clearly the fallacy in this approach to have a government making such tremendously painful and personal and intimate decisions.
Mr. SANTORUM. I certainly respect the difference of opinion the Senator and I have on the underlying issue of abortion. Again, I think people can disagree on that. I, frankly, do not agree there should be a difference between children who are "normal," in society's eyesI do not know what that means anymore, what a society sees as normaland those who happen to have birth defects, severe or not. I do not believe we should draw distinctions.
Mrs. CLINTON. If the Senator will yield for one final point, I want the RECORD to be very clear that I value every single life and every single person, but if the Senator can explain to me how the U.S. Government, through the criminal law process, will be making these decisions without infringing upon fundamental rights, without imposing onerous burdens on women and their families, I would be more than happy to listen. But based on my experience and my understanding of how this has worked in other countries, from Romania to China, you are about to set up
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania has the floor.
Mr. SANTORUM. To liken a ban on a brutal procedure such as partial-birth abortion to the forced abortion policies of China is a fairly substantial stretch, and I do not accept that as an analogy. I do not think it holds up under any scrutiny.
With respect to the other issue, let the record speak for itself.
Mrs. CLINTON. Madam President, if I can ask the Senator for one final point.
Mr. SANTORUM. On the Senator's time. I have been more than generous on my time.
Mr. HARKIN. I ask the Senator to yield.
Mr. SANTORUM. On the Senator's time.
Mr. HARKIN. The Senator has been very good about yielding for questions. If the Senator needs more time, I will join him in getting unanimous consent to give the Senator more time, if he needs it, because he has been very good about getting into a discussion. Do not worry about time. We will give you whatever time you want.
Mr. SANTORUM. I thank the Senator from Iowa.
Mrs. CLINTON. Is the Senator aware that in the very poll he cited, there is another finding? When Americans were asked if
a law should be passed with no health exemption, 59 percent said no, it should not pass.