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Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, first, I would like to thank my colleague from Pennsylvania, Senator Santorum, as well as Senator Brownback, Senator Graham of South Carolina, and Majority Leader Frist for their unending and unwavering efforts to put a permanent end to this horrible partial-birth abortion procedure.

During the time we have served together in this body, they have never given up hope that this Congress and this country would put an end to this barbaric procedure.

Let me also thank my colleague from the State of Ohio, Congressman Chabot, for his tremendous work in this area as well.
He has remained dedicated and continues to be focused on this effort.

It is time that this Senate, this Congress, this country banned a procedure that is inhumane and that has absolutely no medical purpose and that is, quite simply, morally reprehensible. There is no debate about these facts. There is no debate about what takes place during a partial-birth abortion. I submit to my colleagues that the more we know about this procedure, the worse it is. The more we know about it, the clearer it is that we must oppose it. The more we know about it, the easier it is to ban it once and for all.

This is a procedure in which the abortionist pulls a living baby feet first out of the womb and into the birth canal, except for the head, which the abortionist purposely keeps lodged just inside the cervix. As many of us have explained in detail on this Senate floor before, the abortionist then punctures the base of the baby's skull with a long scissors-like surgical instrument and then inserts a tube into the womb removing the baby's brain with a powerful suction machine. This causes the skull to collapse, after which the abortionist completes the delivery of the now-dead baby.

These are the essential facts. No one has ever come to the Senate floor to dispute these facts. This is what a partial-birth abortion is. No one can deny the facts. I can think of nothing more inhumane and indifferent to the human condition.

Every year the tragic effect of this extreme indifference to human life becomes more and more apparent as the procedure is performed all over this country. It is also, of course, performed in my home State of Ohio and actually performed within 20 miles of my home in Ohio. I have spoken on the Senate floor many times before about two particular partial-birth abortions that occurred in Ohio, and I will take a few minutes to recount these tragedies again. They were two typical partial-birth abortions, typical except for the way they turned out.

On April 6, 1999, in Dayton, OH, a woman entered the Dayton Medical Center to undergo a partial-birth abortion. This facility was and tragically continues to be operated by Dr. Martin Haskell, one of the main providers of partial-birth abortions in this entire country. Usually, the partial-birth abortion procedure takes place behind closed doors where it can be ignored, where people do not really know much about it, but in this particular case the procedure was different. There was light shed upon it.

This is what happened, and this is how light was shed upon it: This Dayton abortionist inserted a surgical instrument into the woman to dilate her cervix so the child could eventually be removed and then killed. We have to understand that this procedure usually takes 3 or 4 days. This is not a quick procedure. It takes 3 days to do it. The woman went home to Cincinnati, expecting to return for the completion of the procedure in 2 or 3 days.

In this case, though, her cervix dilated too quickly and, as a result, shortly after midnight of that day she was admitted to the Bethesda North Hospital of Cincinnati, in her hometown, and the child was born. The medical technician pointed out the child was alive but, sadly, apparently the chance of the baby's survival was slim and after 3 hours and 8 minutes the baby died.

The baby was named Hope. On the death certificate, of course, there is a space for cause of death or method of death. In the case of baby Hope, the method of death is listed as "natural."

We, of course, know that is not true. We know all the facts. There was nothing natural about the events that led to the death of this tiny little child because baby Hope did not die of natural causes. Baby Hope died the victim of a barbaric procedure that is opposed by the vast majority of the American people. In fact, a Gallup poll conducted in January of this year shows well over 70 percent of the American people want to see this procedure permanently banned because the American people know it is wrong. They feel strongly about it. We as a Senate, Members of the Congress, should listen to the American people. But more importantly, besides listening to the American people, we need to listen to our own conscience. We know this is wrong.

To almost underscore the inhumanity of this procedure, 4 months later it happened again; again in Ohio, again with the same abortionist. This time, though, something quite different occurred. Once again, in Dayton, this time on August 18, 1999, a woman who was 25 weeks pregnant went to Dr. Haskell's office for a partial-birth abortion. As usual, the abortionist performed the preparatory steps for this barbaric procedure by dilating the mother's cervix. The next day, the woman went into labor and was rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital—again, not what was expected.

Remember, the procedure normally takes 3 full days, but she was rushed there in labor. This time, however, despite the massive trauma to this baby's environment, a miracle occurred and, by the grace of God, this little baby survived and, quite appropriately, she is today called baby Grace.

These types of tragedies have been recounted by medical professionals who have been shocked by the events. There are other stories I would like to tell the Members of the Senate.

Brenda Pratt Shafer, a registered nurse, was assigned to an Ohio abortion clinic in the early 1990s. She was assigned to the same Dr. Haskell abortion clinic.

Nurse Shafer observed Dr. Haskell use the procedure, this procedure, to abort babies. In fact, she testified about it before our Senate Judiciary Committee in 1995. I would like to share with my colleagues what she said because she gave—this nurse did—very gripping, very telling testimony. Nurse Shafer described a partial-birth abortion she witnessed on a child of 26½ weeks. This is what she observed:

The young woman was 18, unmarried, and a little over 6 months pregnant. She cried the entire 3 days she was at the abortion clinic. The doctor told us I am afraid she is going to want to see the baby. Try to discourage her from it. We don't like them to see their babies.

Nurse Shafer continues:

Dr. Haskell went in with forceps and grabbed the baby's legs and pulled them down into the birth canal. Then he delivered the baby's body and arms, everything but the head. The doctor kept the head right inside the uterus. The baby's little fingers were clasping and unclasping, his little feet were kicking. The baby was hanging there and the doctor was holding his neck to keep his head from slipping out. The doctor took a pair of scissors and inserted them into the back of the baby's head and the baby's arm jerked out with a flinch, a startle reaction like a baby does when he thinks he might fall. The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening, and sucked the baby's brains out.

Now the baby went completely limp. He cut the umbilical cord and delivered the placenta. He threw the baby into a pan along with the placenta and the instruments he had just used. I saw the baby move in the pan. I asked the other nurse and she said it was just reflexes. The baby boy had the most perfect angelic face I think I have ever seen in my life.

When the mother started coming around, she was crying. "I want to see my baby," she said. So we cleaned him up and put him into a blanket. We put her in a private room and handed her the baby. She held that baby in her arms, and when she looked into his face, she started screaming: "Oh, my God, what have I done? This is my baby. This is my baby."

It is my prayer that there will come a day when I don't have to retell Nurse Shafer's story, that there will come a day when my colleagues, like Senator Santorum and Senator Brownback, the Presiding Officer, Majority Leader Frist, and the rest of us who have fought this battle will not have to come to the Senate floor and talk about partial-birth abortion. Nobody wants to talk about this. But until that day comes when this procedure has been outlawed in our country once and for all, we will have to continue to fight against this ghastly procedure.

Now is the time to ban this awful procedure. It simply is the right thing to do. This Senate must do that.

(The remarks of Mr. DeWine pertaining to the introduction of S. 1629 are located in today's RECORD under "Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions.")

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