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An Anniversary and a Call to Action

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"An Anniversary and a Call to Action"

On January 22, 2003, the day marking the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, thousands of Pennsylvanians came to Washington, D.C. and joined the annual March for Life. Every year, I have an opportunity to greet these amazing people and to share in their commitment to protecting life. The amount of support we see for this cause during the March is inspiring, as is the effort that so many Americans make by traveling here to demonstrate their belief in the sanctity of life.

This anniversary is a significant one for the continuing, ever-fired dialogue on the subject of abortion because Congress is in a unique position this year to consider legislation that respects the rights of the unborn and the women who carry them. Now under a new majority leadership, the Senate will be able to debate some of the more pressing moral issues our nation faces today. Cloning, judicial appointments, and parental responsibility are all affected by the decisions we make and the perspectives we hold regarding abortion, life, and when it begins. The American people deserve to have the world's greatest deliberative body, the United States Senate, discuss the implications of this controversial topic; it is an issue of life and death for the most innocent among us and it touches us all, every day.

Recent years have brought some important progress. The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, a bill that I sponsored, was signed into law last year and now provides legal protection to all babies born in this country, regardless of their stage of in utero development. Furthermore, we will have an opportunity to propose again a ban on partial-birth abortion. Between 1995 and 2002, the House of Representatives has passed legislation to outlaw this barbaric procedure four times and Senate has done so three times. Bills to ban partial-birth abortion have reached the President's desk twice, and both times, President Clinton vetoed them. As we begin the 108th Congress, however, President Bush has confirmed his support for our efforts to bring an end to this method of abortion. I am hopeful that this will be our year to succeed.

Already this session, I have cosponsored a bill to make the death or injury of an unborn child a crime under federal law, separate from any violence exacted on the unborn child's mother. If passed, this bill, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, will bring our nation much closer to the understanding that life begins at conception. In another important measure, I have joined Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) in supporting legislation to provide $5 million in grants through the Department of Health and Human Services to nonprofit, community-based medical clinics who examine pregnant women free of charge. The specific purpose of this funding is to furnish these clinics with ultrasound equipment so that every woman examined can make a better informed decision about the future of her child.

Perhaps the most convincing argument against abortion is the widespread, vocal sentiment among Americans that Roe v. Wade instituted an untenable precedent. After three decades, one would expect that an absolute ruling of such proportions would have achieved a general acceptance among the public. Certainly civil rights legislation had by this time. But there is, in this country, an overwhelming discomfort with the unlimited right to abortion, and it is even stronger today than it was thirty years ago. This incredible phenomenon speaks to the immorality of the Roe v. Wade decision and to the inability of life-affirming Americans to abide it. We must continue to fight for those who are most harmed by this injustice, however, because these unborn children are without a voice.

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