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Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003-Resumed

Location: Washington, DC


The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.

Mr. SANTORUM. I ask that the Chair lay before the House the message from the House accompanying S. 3, as under the previous agreement.

The legislative clerk read as follows:

A message from the House to accompany S. 3, a bill to prohibit the procedure commonly known as partial-birth abortion.

Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. President, we have before the Senate right now what is usually a procedural motion. When the House passes a bill and the Senate passes a bill and they are different, we procedurally just move to disagree with the House and their provision and go to conference, just as we did prior to the calling up of this bill, S. 3.

The Presiding Officer, who is sitting here for the Vice President, said we were appointing conferees.

The Senator from California has sought to have a debate about whether we are going to disagree with the House and therefore go to conference. I don't understand quite why this is necessary since it is purely a procedural motion. I have been in the Senate not that many years. I have been here about 9 years and have never had a debate on a motion to disagree with the House and to have this kind of time spent when everybody agrees that is what we need to do.

I will support the motion to disagree with the House so we can go to conference and come up with a bill on partial-birth abortion that will be in a conference report that will then come to the Senate that will not be amendable.

If we did not disagree with the House, and the bill came here to the floor, we would have the House bill here. It would be subject to amendments. We would go on again for a long time and have debates and discussions on other amendments. We would have to send it back to the House, and we would be going through this game again.

So this is just a way to bring finality to this process of trying to get a bill which has now been hanging out here in the Senate. We passed this several months go. The House did also. We have sort of been on hold here because of this procedural motion.

Now that we have agreed to allow 8 hours of debate—2 of which were last night—we will debate a couple hours tonight, and tomorrow morning we will have run a couple more hours, and then, hopefully, finish it sometime, maybe tomorrow evening. But the idea is to get this bill to conference where I am confident we will get a bill that will be to the liking of the vast majority of the Senate as well as the House and the President.

With that, we will have this bill signed and for the first time have a Federal piece of legislation to ban a procedure which the late Senator from New York, standing at that desk right over there, referred to as "infanticide."

It is a gruesome procedure which is very difficult to talk about because it is so gruesome and graphic, this description of what this procedure is all about.

It is used almost always on babies who would otherwise be born alive, who are post 20, 21 weeks in gestation, which is halfway through a pregnancy, or later.

These babies are, as I said before, in most cases, healthy. The mothers are healthy. This procedure is used because late in pregnancy a mother decides, for some reason, that she no longer wants the child within her—which is a tragic situation to have a child that is unwanted. I think we all recognize the tragedy of that.

But I think what most Members of the Senate have said is that this procedure—not that she shouldn't have the right to do it. Roe v. Wade, as interpreted by many subsequent Supreme Court cases, gives a woman the absolute right to an abortion at any time during pregnancy.

Now, for those of you who have not listened to debates on abortion before in the Senate or who have not read the case law with respect to abortion, that may come as a surprise to you, that Roe v. Wade, and its subsequent line of cases, has developed to the point where there is no restriction—no restriction—on the right to an abortion up until the moment the baby separates from the mother completely. Up until that time, the Supreme Court now has decided that a woman has a right to kill the child within her. Or even, as in the case of partial-birth abortion, the Supreme Court ruled that the woman has a right to kill the child who is but an inch, 2, or 3 inches completely from being separated from the mother in the process of being delivered. That is how extreme the Roe v. Wade decision is.

Now, I would say that for most Americans who are listening, that is further than they had thought Roe v. Wade had taken this country, and that it is not where the vast majority of Americans are. That is why 70 percent of the people in this country oppose partial-birth abortion and would like to see it banned. That is why the vast majority of people in this country are for some limitation on abortion.

Depending on the poll you see, anywhere from 15 to 23 percent of the American public want abortions available at any time during pregnancy. Most Americans—the overwhelming majority of Americans—want some restrictions.

Now, in the Senate we did something I would argue was unfortunate. A couple months ago we adopted an amendment offered by the Senator from Iowa which was truly an extreme amendment.

We hear so much talk about people who are pro-life, who are against abortion, as being extremists. The definition of "extreme" is someone who is outside the norm. Well, when you have 15, 16, 17 percent holding this position, and 85 percent holding the other position, it is very difficult for the 16 percent to say the 85 percent is extreme.

But that is what we hear on the floor of the Senate, that those who believe in the absolute right given under Roe v. Wade—the absolute right—to have an abortion at any point in time in a pregnancy, for any reason—because you don't like the color of your child's eyes or because your child may have a cleft palate or because something happened in your personal life that has upset you and you no longer wish to carry this child, even though you may be 37 or 38 weeks along—it doesn't matter.

Under Roe v. Wade, and under the amendment offered by the Senator from Iowa, we have said in the Senate—I believe wrongly and unjustly—that should be the law of the land, that a woman's right, domain over a child, is absolute until complete separation. There are some who even argued after separation. But, thankfully, the Senate voted last year that a child who was born and completely separated has a constitutional right. That is how far we have come. We actually passed a bill last year which said that once a child is born it has constitutional protection. That is the biggest step we have been able to take to protect the life of innocent children in America.

But what this Roe v. Wade language—this language which I anticipate being dropped in conference—says is that we believe in the absolute right—absolute right—of a woman to terminate a pregnancy, to kill the child within her, at any point in time, for any reason. That is what the law of the land says.

Now, I would make the argument that Roe v. Wade, because of this twisting of the Constitution—it really is tortuous—has done something that we have not seen done in this country, that we have not seen done in this country since the Dred Scott decision.

If we think back to the Dred Scott decision—well over 100 years ago, 150 years ago—the Dred Scott decision was based on a misunderstanding of ordered liberty, of ordered rights that we laid out in our founding documents. In the Declaration of Independence, the document on which this country was founded, we made a statement as a country that we hold dear. The Declaration of Independence—of maybe all the documents, of all the great works of craftsmanship of words that we have seen put forth in this country—there are very few that match the eloquence of the Declaration of Independence.

What the Declaration of Independence said is: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. And then what—this is very important.

The Presiding Officer is a great student of history and maybe the greatest advocate for the understanding of history and the knowledge of who we are as Americans. I would argue the Declaration of Independence tells us more about who we are as
Americans than maybe any other single document. But what this document says is: We are endowed by—not a Congress or not the courts or not some king—our Creator, the God that you worship, Allah, Jesus, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, a God who may be a God of the Hindu religion, whatever that creator is, the creator God, he has given us rights by the fact that we are human.

What these rights consist of the Constitution laid out. They laid them out very particularly because there is an order to the rights that God has given us. There has to be. We have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They didn't say the pursuit of happiness, liberty, life. They didn't say liberty, life, happiness. They said them in a specific order because without that ordering of liberty, without that ordering of rights, they make no sense. For you cannot have happiness, true happiness, you cannot pursue true happiness, which the Founders really sought as truth—the ability to find what is true and what is right and what is just, and that would in a sense make you happy—you cannot pursue happiness without the freedom to do so, without the liberty, the right of liberty to think and to pursue your beliefs freely.

But you cannot have liberty, obviously, if you are not alive. If you don't have life, then what good is liberty? And if you are not alive, if you have no right to your own life, you can't pursue happiness. So life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not just words that were thrown out there because they sounded lofty or because they were rolled off the tongue in a way that makes a nice impression. They are there because they are foundational in understanding how free people treat each other, how a free society must conduct itself in order for it to prosper.

What did Dred Scott do? The Dred Scott decision put the liberty rights of the slaveholder over the life rights of the slave. It said that I, as a slaveholder, could own and control you, could kill you, could sell you as a piece of property—liberty rights over life rights. The U.S. Supreme Court in the 1850s said that was constitutional. As a result, many people believed that, because it was constitutional, it was therefore right. It was legal. It was just. It was moral. Why? Because our laws are a reflection of a collective morality. Our laws are a reflection of what we as a society believe is right.

At first there were a few. As Henry the Fifth in Shakespeare said: We few, we band of brothers. In this country there were few who stood and said: No. It may be legal, it may be seen as just by the courts, but it is wrong. It is immoral; it is unjust; and it is a fundamental misunderstanding of the basis upon which this country was founded.

As Abraham Lincoln said, a house divided against itself cannot stand. The separation began to grow. And more and more people began to understand the injustice of taking the liberty rights of one to trump the life rights of another. There were many in this country and many in this very Chamber who believed we could sustain that, as unjust as maybe they even thought it was.

Many would have said: Well, I am personally opposed to slavery. I would never own a slave. I would never do something like that. But who am I to tell someone else they can't own a slave? Is that my responsibility? I may think it is immoral, but how can I impose my morality on a slaveholder who has his own economic interests? He has a family to raise. He has complications in getting his crops in.

There are exigencies out there that those who promoted slaveholding said: We need this. We don't like it.

I am sure there were many people on both sides of the aisle who said: We support slavery. We don't like it. We don't encourage it. Yes, we think it is probably immoral. But we need to have this option available for people if that is what they choose. We need to give people the right to choose.

Eventually there were enough people in this country who decided they could not let that stand. Unfortunately, we had to fight a war to change it.

After that war, I am sure there were many in this Chamber who thought this great scourge, this black mark, this pox upon the American existence had been wiped away, never to be seen again; that we would learn from history never to repeat this horrendous injustice, this immoral behavior as a society. We would never, ever again misorder our liberties. But they were wrong. For today in this country, as a result of Dred Scott 2, the Roe v. Wade decision, we have seen the same thing come about.

We now have the life rights, the most important right given to us as children of the Creator, crushed and hidden away behind the concept of liberty. It repulses us now to think that people used liberty to defend slavery. They used the right of free people to live their life freely to defend slavery.

I hope that 100 years from now—hopefully soon—people will be on the floor looking back at this time and saying: I can't believe they did it again. I can't believe they didn't learn their lesson. I can't believe they didn't see that a House divided against itself cannot stand.

The Senator from Tennessee, the Presiding Officer, is honest. It has been said many times that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of history. And so we are, and so we will continue, I suspect. But it is important that the few, we merry band of brothers, stand up, in spite of what may be majorities against us—and certainly the media and the popular culture is speaking against us—and speak the truth that our Founders laid out.

They did not say we believe or we think we were endowed by our Creator. They did not say it is our opinion that these rights exist. They claimed truth. They claimed truth, and they devoted their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to fight for that truth during the Revolutionary War.

People who came from little hamlets all over the north and the border States did the same. Today, in their own quiet way, millions of Americans do the same. They fight the battle. They fight it with prayer chains. They fight it at home at night and through their prayers, through the counsel of those who are going through troubled times. They do it through the love they feel toward those who are going through difficult times in their lives, but they understand that the truth claim that our Founders chiseled into the Declaration of Independence will not be forgotten in our society.

We will lose many more battles. There is no doubt we will lose many more battles, but ultimately, I have to believe, because I do believe in America, we will win the war and reestablish truth, justice, and righteousness—righteousness as defined by our Founders, as understood in the nature of humans. We will win that war one day.

I yield the floor. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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