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Senator Stabenow Rises in Support of Feinstein Amendment

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. STABENOW. I appreciate the deeply held views on all sides of this issue. But first I will indicate there is not a more fundamental issue for the women of this country that relates to our privacy, respect for our own decisionmaking, as well as our own religious beliefs, than this fundamental issue we are debating. I also remind my colleagues that the term partial-birth abortion, there is not a procedure called that, but the late-term abortion procedure is in fact one-tenth of 1 percent of all of those procedures, all abortions that are done every year. We are talking about a very small group of procedures done when there are real tragedies.

These are wanted pregnancies, women who have been excited about having babies and find out very late in the term of the pregnancy that there is a serious or fatal problem. And their families grieve. They grieve over the decisions they have to make about how to proceed, given the information.

I believe we need, as a governmental body under the Constitution, to respect their privacy, their religious freedom, for them to be able to struggle with their own decisionmaking, their family's and their faith, to be able to do what is best to protect their own life and their own health.

I rise to support the Feinstein amendment strongly and would be surprised, given the vote on the Harkin amendment, if this amendment did not pass. We just had a vote where 52 Members of this great body voted to uphold Roe v. Wade, voted to uphold the constitutionality, the decision made by the Supreme Court in that case. The Feinstein amendment does nothing more than repeat the language as it relates to the life and health of the mother. It repeats what is current law in terms of Roe v. Wade. So those who support Roe v. Wade, who supported the Harkin amendment, should be supporting this amendment as well.

I would like to share a couple of letters that talk about what we are really doing.

This is a statement by Maureen Britell, given on March 10 of this year. She writes:

In February of 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 the 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 5 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 .    .    . where the brain stem develops, but not the brain.

Madam President, can you imagine how that couple must have felt at that moment? As a mother of two children, I certainly can. She goes on to say:

I went to the New England Medical Center for a high-level sonogram, which confirmed what my doctor had told me. The medical experts [there] .    .    . 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 that I could do to help my daughter.
Madam President, I ask the Senator for 2 additional minutes.

Mrs. FEINSTEIN. I yield 2 more minutes to the Senator.

Ms. STABENOW. She said:

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.
Madam President, again, can you imagine writing this letter and the pain of this woman and her family?

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 canal—the 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 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 healthcare in this country.

In a perfect world, I would never have to write you this letter. Every pregnancy would be wanted, healthy and happy—and no loved ones would be going off to war. Until that time, however, there will be families like mine. And until that time, abortion must be kept safe, legal and accessible.

Madam President, we have thousands of women who have shared similar stories. We have thousands who are asking for us to say no to this extreme legislation, to support the Feinstein amendment, and to join with us—all of us—in efforts to come forward to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

I was so disappointed that Senator Murray's amendment did not pass—a positive effort to focus on prevention, on coming together to focus on stopping the unwanted pregnancies on the front end. I was very disturbed to see even a more restrictive effort to show how extreme this effort is—even Senator Durbin's amendment did not pass this body.

This is an extreme measure, which will take away the ability for women to respond when their life or their health is in jeopardy as a result of a pregnancy. This is not what we should be doing in the Senate. I urge my colleagues, reaffirm the vote on the Harkin amendment to support Roe v. Wade by supporting the language in the Feinstein amendment.

I yield the floor.

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