ABORTION -- (House of Representatives - January 21, 2009)
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Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. And I thank the gentleman from New Jersey for your leadership on this issue today and in the past so much and in the future as well.
Mr. Speaker, as you know, I also hail from the great State of New Jersey; and tonight I would like to begin tonight by talking about a women who lived there, who had lived there in Tenafly, a town in my congressional district. You may have heard her name before. In fact, she is commemorated in a sculpture located right here in the rotunda of this building.
I am talking about Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Ms. Stanton was a leading social activist of her time and a champion of the women's suffrage movement. As a proponent of women's rights, some might assume she supported a women's ability to have an abortion. No.
Ms. Stanton actually took the opposite view. In a letter in 1873 written to Julia Ward Howe, who was a prominent abolitionist, she wrote ``When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.''
She called abortion then what it was then and today as well, infanticide. Today, over 100 years later, women, of course, have won that battle of the women's suffrage movement and the right to vote, but we still allow some unborn infants to be classified as simply, with what she called it, unwanted nuisances and to be killed. You know, permitting this hypocrisy is really a promotion, you might say, of age-based discrimination, and I believe Ms. Stanton would be appalled to know that it continues today.
After all, murder is a direct violation of the very same rights that she was fighting for back then and as proposed by our Founding Fathers in original documents. You know, as the chairman of the Constitution Caucus, I have pledged to fight for the liberties recognized by our Founding Fathers. But I know, realistically, that we will have tough battles ahead in this term and years ahead on many different fronts.
The first skirmish will likely be waged in the executive branch. One of the executive orders that President Bush stated in his Mexico City Policy, and what it does is to ban U.S. funds from going to nongovernmental agencies that provide abortion services overseas. Now, just last week, I joined Representative Lamborn and other Members of Congress in sending a letter at that time to President-elect Obama urging him to uphold that policy when he comes into office.
Now, the second combat zone is right here in this U.S. Congress. Now, due to the successful efforts of past legislators, particularly former Congressman Henry Hyde, Federal funds could not be used to pay for abortions. However, Members who support abortions will likely, very likely, seek to erode these key restrictions.
Even worse than that, some Members would like to pass something called the Freedom of Choice Act. So today, I have signed a letter to now-President Obama, urging him to withdraw his pledge to support any such legislation.
As bad as it is, fortunately, not all congressional clashes are on the offensive. So I applaud efforts of Members who have introduced legislation to protect the health of young mothers and restrict the number of abortions performed here in the United States.
Just today, I signed on, and I am proud to do so, of the original cosponsor of Mr. Jordan's bill, which is the Ultrasound Informed Consent Act; Ms. Ros-Lehtinen's Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act; and Mr. Pence's, who was just speaking, Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act.
Thankfully, the battle for the unborn is not waged merely here in the Capitol, in the Congress, in the Executive, the walls of the White House, or the halls here of the Congress, or even at the desks across the street at the Supreme Court Justices. The main struggle is fought in the towns and suburbs and cities across this United States.
Many Americans strive to promote life by supporting young mothers who cannot afford to raise their child. They do this by adopting children who do not have a home or a parent. They counsel men and women who chose to abort and now experience the very deep depression and regret.
Just closing, just yesterday, I thought for a split second that our new President would seek to protect this innocent life as well. As I listened to his inaugural address, I heard him say, and I quote, ``All are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.'' It seems that President Obama really believes that some people are just too young or too small to deserve such rights or privileges.
Perhaps the new President should study the position of one of his predecessors, John Quincy Adams. Adams once wrote, ``Americans, ask the Declaration of Independence and it will tell you that its authors held for self-evident truth that the right to life is the first of the unalienable rights of man, and that to secure and not destroy that right, that is the reason the governments have been created.''
So, as I stand here as an elected official in this government, I pledge, along with my colleagues from New Jersey, and across this country, to follow John Adams' footsteps and uphold our basic fundamental right. For without this fundamental right, all other freedoms in this Nation shall perish.
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