Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

Further Discussion of Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act (cont.)

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. President, to comment directly on the Senator's motion to recommit, she cites statements by Members of the Republican leadership concerning the practice last session of repeatedly bringing bills to the floor without having gone through committee. The bills we were referring to included a comprehensive energy bill, a bill about that thick, and the agriculture reauthorization, which was another rather thick and complicated piece of legislation, all brand-new material. The prescription drug plan, roughly $300 to $400 million in new Government spending, and a brand-new entitlement, never went through committee. And a whole host of other pieces of legislation. We are talking about major, complex, lengthy, pieces of legislation.

The corporate responsibility bill was dramatically changed and a whole list of others that came to this floor. Members were justifiably concerned that these rather extensive and expensive and complex pieces of legislation should have had some review at the committee level.

None of these measures, prior to their being placed on the floor of the Senate, had been on the floor of the Senate before, had not had any kind of consideration in any body.

Compare that to the legislation before the Senate. The legislation before the Senate is the same subject matter we have debated on the floor on four previous occasions. There have been two extensive Judiciary Committee hearings on this piece of legislation and there has been wide discussion both on the floor and off the floor about this particular procedure.

The Senator from California argues we should have this bill go before the Judiciary Committee now because it is a changed bill. These are her words: "It's a changed bill." Earlier in her discussion she said this bill does not meet constitutional muster because it is identical to the bill we passed previously. So if it is identical, how can it be changed? If it is identical, why do we have to go back? If it is not identical, you can at least make the point we need to go back.

I make the argument the underlying issue we are dealing with here, the issue of banning this procedure, has not changed at all. Some of the legislative language has changed, but the Senate floor is eventually going to handle this issue anyway and is perfectly competent to review this legal language and make a determination on their own as to whether they believe this meets the constitutional standard as set forth in the Carhart decision. I don't believe it is hard. There is a unique expertise within the Judiciary Committee to deal with something that eventually we have to deal with on the floor. There is a lot of information written about this subject area, and it has been fully and openly debated on the Senate floor.

It is a very narrow issue. This is not a Medicare prescription drug plan. This is not a comprehensive energy strategy. This is not an agriculture reauthorization bill. This is not a corporate responsibility bill. This is a very narrow single issue. We are talking about the difference in this case between maybe 20 or 30 words. I don't think we need a Judiciary Committee hearing and markup for 20 or 30 words on a bill we have debated four times on the floor of the Senate. We are perfectly capable of handling it.

That leads me to the second issue, which is the issue of constitutionality the Senator from California brings up as a reason to commit this legislation back to committee.

Let me address those issues. First, the issue of vagueness. The Senator from California quotes the U.S. Supreme Court in saying, "its language makes clear"—its language being the bill's language in Nebraska—"that it also covers a much broader category of procedures." As a result of that, the possibility with the language in the Nebraska statute covering procedures other than partial-birth abortion, the Court found it to be vague.

We have responded to that. We have responded to that with a much more detailed definition. Let me read the operative parts of the definition to show the difference in language in how we have responded to this concern. In S. 1692, which was virtually identical to the Nebraska statute, the definition was:

An abortion in which the person performing the abortion deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers some portion of an intact living fetus until the fetus is partially outside the body of the mother.

Let me repeat that:

    .    .    . some portion of an intact living fetus until the fetus is partially outside the body of the mother.

    The Court said there are other procedures done, late-term abortion procedures that are done, that in the process of doing that procedure, a portion of the body—maybe an arm or a leg or an appendage, may actually come outside of the mother while the child is still alive. So what they are saying is as a result of that, we could be banning this other procedure. In the course of doing another abortion procedure that is legal, not barred by the legislation before us today, that could occur.

    We have addressed that issue. They clearly point to that particular example. We have changed the language by saying 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 a breech presentation, any part of the fetal trunk"—not an arm, not a hand, not a foot, not a leg—any part of the fetal trunk, which means, of course, the feet, the legs and the trunk "past the navel, is outside the body of the mother."

    So we are not talking about performing a D&E, where the baby is killed in utero and dismembered and taken out a piece at a time. We are not talking about that procedure. We are talking about a procedure where—if we can get the chart so I can graphically show what we are talking about—there is no other procedure that could possibly be covered.

    I ask those who are opponents of this bill if they can name for me another procedure where the child would be arms, legs, and trunk outside of the mother, all but the head. That is the procedure we are talking about here. No other medical procedure as defined in the medical literature has a baby in this position. Period. Period. There is no vagueness here. We are clear about this procedure.

    We are very clear that the child is delivered in a breech position and then, if we put the previous chart up, these 8-inch long scissors—we can see the scissors are about as long as a human hand and the baby is roughly as long, maybe slightly longer than a human hand. This baby at this point is roughly, I believe, 24 weeks, which is roughly the time, 20 to 26 or 27 weeks, when the vast majority of these partial-birth abortions are performed.

    I know the Senator from California said her constituents saw these pictures and they couldn't look at them. That is why we are trying to ban this procedure. Because this is horrific. You cannot look at it and not be affected.

    The Senator from Washington, the day before yesterday, said that banning this procedure is an extreme measure. I would like to know what her definition of extreme is. Banning this procedure is an extreme measure. I asked her what she thought about the fact that 70 percent of the American public wanted to ban this procedure. Under my definition of extreme, it does not equate to 70 percent support of something being considered extreme. But she held fast. She said the reason it is 70 percent support is because they do not understand really what this procedure is all about.

    I want to juxtapose that statement to the statement of the Senator from California who said the people in her State could not even look at the pictures. I suggest to you, what if every single American were forced to sit in front of a television set, or, worse yet, were required to come into an abortion clinic—these are not performed at hospitals; they are just performed at abortion clinics. What if every single American were required to come in and watch this occur to a little baby, to stand and watch a physician who is trained to heal, who is trained to save lives, who is trained, as the Senator from California said yesterday, to "first do no harm," remove a 20-week to 26-week, 27-week—in some cases unfortunately later than that—little baby from its mother.

    This is the part I just find chilling. Imagine yourself, close your eyes and imagine yourself in this abortion clinic watching this little child. I have witnessed the birth of our seven little children. I see these little people emerge miraculously, incredibly, from the birth canal, from their mother into the loving hands of a doctor whose job it is to heal, whose job it is to nurture and take care of that child.

    But in this case those hands are not there to heal. These are not healing hands. They look like it, don't they? They have the gloves on, don't they? They are sterile, aren't they? But they are not healing hands. No, these hands are not there to heal this little child. Those hands are there to grasp that little child who is alive; who is alive. By definition, under this bill, this is not a partial-birth abortion, because it says "delivers a living fetus."

    So, if this child is not alive, this procedure is not barred. This procedure is only barred if this baby is alive.

    So you have hands of a doctor trained to heal, grasping a living child whose arms and legs are extended, whose heart is beating, whose nerves are sensing, whose brain is attempting to understand what is going on, and he's grasping this living being.

    When you hold something that is alive, when you have it in your hands, whether it is a little rabbit, guinea pig, or little puppy, there is a feeling. There is a sense you have when you are holding something that is alive. This doctor is holding something he or she knows is alive and is 3 inches from being born, 3 inches from constitutional protection. This doctor is not there to heal. He is there to take these scissors, long, narrow scissors that come to a point at the end—they are called Metzenbaum scissors—his job is to do this blindly, because this is not done with a sonogram. This is not done where the doctor can see inside of the mother through a medical device. No, this is done blindly. The doctor is feeling, reaching his hands in to find the spot, the lethal spot, the soft spot here at the base of the skull, that soft spot in this little baby where he takes this sharp instrument and blindly thrusts it into this baby's skull.

    As our majority leader said yesterday, it is a dangerous procedure for mothers. It is a blind procedure. It is done in an area of the body that is very susceptible to injury. It is a very lush area of the body. There is no protection for the mother. As the Senator from Tennessee yesterday said, those scissors could slip because it a blind procedure. They could perforate a uterus, or they could lead to incompetent cervix. They could lead to a variety of harm that other late-term abortion procedures do not do.

    Not only is this lethal for this baby but it is dangerous for the mother. According to the doctor who designed this procedure, he said—again, this his testimony—that he has never encountered a situation where a partial-birth abortion was medically necessary to achieve the desired outcome. His words: Never medically necessary. He personally designed the procedure and said often that the reason he designed this procedure was not because it was healthier for women, not because it was safer for women, and not because it was a better, more scientific way of doing this. This procedure is not taught in a single medical school in the country. It is not taught in a single hospital in the country. It is not, to my knowledge, performed by any obstetrician. It is performed by abortionists who are not board certified in obstetrics. But they are certified in destruction. That is what this procedure is. This is not a procedure to preserve the health of mothers. The doctor who designed this procedure said he designed this procedure because the other type of abortion, which we do not ban in this legislation, takes 45 minutes. This takes 15 minutes. In his words—not mine—"I can do more abortions in a day."

    Those scissors are thrust into this little baby's skull.

    Again, you are in this room. Close your eyes. You are in this room, and you are watching this baby whose arms and legs are moving, who is alive, who but for this act that is being perpetrated upon it, would be born alive. That is not to say it would live substantially longer after birth; depending on its gestational age, maybe or maybe not.

    We have cases the Senator from Ohio talked about where mothers who had partial-birth abortions or were to have partial-birth abortions—remember how this procedure works. You can go in and present yourself to the abortionist. The abortionist gives you a pill and sends you home for 2 days. That is the reason it only takes 15 minutes of his time—because he sends you home with medication to dilate your cervix over a 2-day period of time and you present yourself again for the procedure. At that point, it only takes 15 minutes of his time. There are all sorts of complications which I will not get into right now.

Having dilation over a 2-day period of time could lead to women's inability to carry children long term after their abortion. In two cases in Ohio, women delivered children because their cervix dilated too quickly, which induced labor. It resulted in the delivery of two children, both of whom lived. One did not survive because she was too premature. The other lives today but was selected for this procedure.

Go back to the room again. You are watching this doctor with these hands that are holding a living child. The child fits, as you can see, very comfortably. The entire trunk and the body of the child fit into this physician's hand. The body is moving. But he finds the spot and thrusts the scissors into the base of the skull.

Nurse Brenda Shafer was assisting on a partial-birth abortion. By the way, she was not pro-life. She was working in an abortion clinic. But when she saw this and saw—her description—the arms and legs of the child shoot out like when you hold a little baby and you let it fall a little bit. The baby will react like that and shoot its arms and legs out, not knowing what is going on and not understanding what is being done to it because their ability to understand is limited to that. This baby doesn't have any time to understand because in that moment in which these little girl's or boy's arms spasm out like that, the baby is dead.

But the procedure doesn't end, the insult doesn't end, because the doctor then takes these scissors and pulls them, causing the scissors to pull the skull open—to break the skull apart so he can create a hole in the baby's head big enough for a suction catheter to be inserted into the base of the baby's brain.

They turn on this vacuum suction tube. Then they suction the baby's brain contents out—the cranial contents out. Because of the softness of the baby's skull, the skull collapses and the baby is then delivered dead.

As our majority leader, the doctor from Tennessee, said yesterday, the only advantage he can possibly conceive of for this procedure is that it guarantees the baby is dead before it is delivered.

We are not vague about the procedure we are describing. The court should not be under any misunderstanding about what we are attempting to bar. The language in this legislation is not really identical. If I were arguing for the plaintiff—that is their job. Their job is to go out and present the best argument they can. My guess is they will argue that it is not legally identical, and they will have three or four other arguments in the alternative that this court will not buy. That is the job of the lawyer representing their client.

Our job as Senators is to protect the decency of our society. It is to stop unnecessary brutality to the weakest among us—to stop procedures that are harmful to the health of mothers. There is not one physician who has testified who has said this procedure is the safest or is the best.

I ask this question again: As I repeated the last 3 days and I have asked for 7 years on this floor, give me a procedure, give me a case study where a partial-birth abortion is indicated, where it is necessary—this is the term, by the way, that the Supreme Court used as Senator Boxer's chart shows—where it is "necessary and appropriate medical judgment for the preservation of the life or health of the mother"—where it is necessary. There is not one case, not one instance in 7 years when it has been brought to this floor, or to the floor of any State legislature, the floor of any courtroom, any hearing room. Not one case has been brought where it has been argued, because of the particular medical circumstances, it is medically necessary for this brutality.

Why? Because this isn't taught in any medical school. It isn't done in any hospital. It isn't done by any obstetrician. This is a rogue procedure for the convenience and economic benefit of abortionists and abortion clinics. Of course, it is not medically necessary. It is not even medically recognized. It is dangerous to the health of mothers.

Let me quote from the findings in the bill. By the way, this is all from congressional testimony. I understand the Senator from California wants us to commit this back to committee for congressional hearings. Here are the definitive hearings we have had on this legislation:

Those risks include, among other things: an increase in a woman's risk of suffering from cervical incompetence—
As I said before, you have a 2-day period where the cervix is dilated. That leads to a variety of different risk factors, including infection, that could lead to cervical incompetence.

As the Senator from Tennessee said yesterday—the only physician in the Senate, who has delivered his share of babies—you do not put these kinds of instruments through the opening where the cervix is without having some consequence or potential consequences to the ability, long term, for a mother to carry a child.

As a result of cervical dilation making it difficult or impossible for a woman to carry a subsequent pregnancy to term; an increased risk of uterine rupture—

Why? because of those scissors we showed you before, that suction catheter, if not properly placed, could cause a lot of damage.

abruption, amniotic fluid embolus, and trauma to the uterus as a result of converting the child to a footling breech position—

Now, remember, any of you who have gone through the birth of a child—whether as a mother or a father or a relative—who have experienced the birth of a child, one of the things you always worry about is, is the child in the right position before delivery? Is the child in the right position? What is the right position? Well, head down.

What is one of the greatest fears of a mother and a father when they go in to deliver a baby? If the baby is not in the right position, and the delivery might have to be what? Breech. Breech deliveries are dangerous. They are potentially life threatening to the baby and could be very harmful to the mother.

What does this procedure deliberately do? It delivers the baby in a breech position. And:

a procedure which, according to a leading obstetrics textbook, "there are very few, if any, indications for [the breech position] other than for delivery of a second twin;" and a risk of lacerations and secondary hemorrhaging due to the doctor blindly forcing a sharp instrument into the base of the .    .    . child's skull while he or she is lodged in the birth canal, an act which could result in severe bleeding, brings with it the threat of shock, and could ultimately result in maternal death.

Now, you have to ask a question, folks. Why are there people across this country in some of those organizations that are "abortion rights organizations," and some Members here in the Senate coming here to argue to maintain the legality of a procedure which is a rogue procedure—not according to RICK SANTORUM, but according to the AMA, according to a variety of different organizations that are out there that are physician-oriented organizations. It is a rogue procedure—not taught in medical schools, not done in hospitals, not done by obstetricians—designed by abortionists for the convenience of the abortionist, that is a greater risk.

I show you a chart with Dr. Hern's comment. I show you a comment of an abortionist who does late-term abortions. In fact, he doesn't just do them, he is "the" expert in America. As they say, he wrote the book. This man wrote the book. He is the author of standard textbooks on abortion procedures, abortion practices, and performs many third-trimester abortions. This is what he said:

I have very serious reservations about this procedure .    .    . you really can't defend it. I would dispute any statement—

any statement that this is the safest procedure to use.

This is not someone who supports my side of the argument, by the way. But what he is suggesting is, this is the least safe. In fact, we have umpteen medical organizations and physicians' testimony, saying: Well, you know, we want to keep it as an option. Many of these groups say: And we don't want doctors to have any restrictions on their right to practice. But, no, there are safer procedures, certainly.

But the evidence is overwhelming. This is the least safe procedure. This is the most dangerous procedure to the health of a mother. So it is the most dangerous. And it is never medically indicated, never medically necessary.

So, again, why? Why do you oppose this? Of all the alternatives, it is the most dangerous to the health of the mother. So it is dangerous to the health of the mother, and it is never medically indicated. Well, then, why would you support keeping it legal?

What is so important, what value that you hold, what thing is so precious that would require you to come here and defend a procedure that is never medically necessary and more harmful to women than other alternatives? What is it? It is not women's health. No, no, no, it is not women's health, because this is the most dangerous. And this is not medically necessary. So what is it?

Well, as the abortion rights groups have said, this is an assault on the right to an abortion. This procedure is an assault on the right. I would argue, most people do not even believe you could have abortions at this stage. When you look at this little, fully formed, living child, most people in America cannot imagine that abortions are performed on healthy mothers with healthy babies at this point in pregnancy, because the other side has said, for years: Well, Roe v. Wade only allows first-trimester abortions. They are limited afterwards. Wrong. Wrong—healthy mothers, healthy babies.

How do we know? Well, Ron Fitzsimmons, who is the director of the organization of abortion clinics in America, said: I lied through my teeth when I said this was performed in rare circumstances only to protect the health of the mother, on children who are deformed or mothers who are in danger. I lied through my teeth, he said. He said: We all know that these abortions are performed on healthy mothers and healthy babies. The vast majority—his quote—the "vast majority." We have better than a vast majority.

The State of Kansas, the only State in the Union that tracks these kinds of abortions, requires a reason for the abortion on the form the doctor has to fill out after he performs it. In Kansas, there were 182 partial-birth abortions in 1 year—in a State the size of Kansas. How many were for the health of the mother? How many were because the mother's life was in danger? How many were because the mother's future fertility was in danger? How many were because the mother was in danger of grievous medical injury, physical injury? How many were because this was medically necessary? How many? None. Zero. The reason given for all 182 brutal executions at the hands of a physician: mental health. They had to check a box somewhere: "mental health." Well, they have to say a health reason. You can't do it for no reason. But mental health, of course, is fear, anxiety, stress—certainly things we should be concerned about, but I do not believe at this stage in pregnancy a sufficient reason in the American public's eyes to do this.

Is stress a reason for this? Is this a justification in the eyes of the American public? Seventy percent—I daresay if we had every American in the room when one of these procedures was performed, God, I hope at least 95 percent would agree it was not justified.

This is an evil in our midst. One of the great things I believe about America and about my colleagues is when they see evil, they have the courage to stand up and fight it. This is the face of evil. Those hands, those healing hands are a corruption of medicine that we cannot allow to continue.

Please vote against this motion to commit, this motion to delay the banning of this procedure that could save some little baby somewhere in America from having to go through this.

I reserve the remainder of my time.

Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Back to top