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Public Statements

Roe V. Wade

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

ROE V. WADE -- (Senate - January 22, 2009)

Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, today is a s ad day. We had a wonderful inauguration a couple of days ago, phenomenal crowd, a great celebration, and a peaceful transfer of power took place. It was amazing. I was there on the front steps of the Capitol watching it, participating in it, excited about the first African-American President of the United States; an amazing thing to take place within one generation of Martin Luther King's marches and what he did in this country. My State has been a big part of all of those things and what has taken place. T oday is a sad day, though. Today, 36 years ago, the Supreme Court's ruling in Roe v. Wade banned all impediments to having an abortion in the United States and said abortion is a constitutional right that the individual carries in the United States and that it cannot be infringed upon, cannot be limited. It did later limit some of that and gave a few places where the State could act to limit--most recently partial-birth abortions, where the Supreme Court has recently ruled that the State can limit partial-bi rth abortions. And there were a few minor areas in the Roe decision, but overall it made a constitutional right to abortion. That was 36 years ago.

The reason I say it is a sad day is there have been roughly--and nobody knows for sure--40 million children who are not here today because of that decision. It ratcheted up, escalated up substantially the number of abortions in the United States that took place after that. It moved forward to the point that most estimates are that one in four pregnancies in th e United States will end in an abortion and a child dying. And it even gets worse from that point. When you look at children with special needs, such as Down syndrome children, the number is somewhere between 80 to 90 percent do not make it here, as I have stated on this floor previously, as they are aborted and they are killed because of their genetic type. They get a test, the amniocentesis test, which says they have an extra chromosome, and generally because of that extra chromosome they are aborted and they are killed, even though the fact is, if they would get here on the ground, life and the prospects for a Down syndrome child now have never been better. Life expectancy, quality of life issues, if that is your measure, have never been better than they are now. Plus, the families who have a Down syndrome child look at those children as the centerpiece of the family, an amazing person. Yet somewhere between 80 to 90 percent of these amazing people never make it here, and that is because of what happened 3 6 years ago this day in the Supreme Court of the United States.

That is why there will be hundreds of thousands, primarily young people, marching today in Washington, DC. They will get no mention. There will be very little press, if any, outside of some of the religious press that will be there. But outside of that, they will get virtually no coverage. There will be hundreds of thousands of young people here marching and asking for a change and something different, something that I hope President Barack Obama would embrace. He was empowered on the legs of young people and young enthusiastic minds looking for change, looking for something different. That same young generation is the most pro-life demographic in our country today. That age group that is below the age of 25 is the most pro life. They are looking for something different. They are looking for a sanctity of life. They are looking for us to protect all innocent human life. They are looking for us to work to make all human life better, whether th at is a child in the womb or a child in Darfur. Whether it is somebody in prison or somebody in poverty, they want that person's life to be better.

That is a beautiful pro-life statement. It is one that we need to see mirrored. It is one we need to see acted upon. It is one we need to see happen, rather than the repealing of things such as Mexico City language which says we can now use taxpayer dollars to fund groups overseas that work and support and fund abortion. Yet apparently that is what the Obama administration is going to do, it is going to repeal Mexico City language and say that taxpayer dollars can now be used for these purposes that most Americans disagree with. That is not the change people are looking for. Those are chains to the past. Those are things that bind us to a culture that doesn't affirm life, that doesn't see it as sacred and beautiful in all its places and dignity in every human life no matter who it is. Those are ones that say quality of life is your measure, as to whether you s hould be the recipient of such a gift of life.

It is a sad day. It is a tough day. I hope it is a day that doesn't go on as far as our having many future annual recognitions of the Roe v. Wade decision but, rather that in the future we will be a life-affirming place and that we will say, in a dignified culture every life at every place in every way is beautiful and it is unique and it is amazing and it is something that should be celebrated and it should not be killed. When we move to that, that will be real change. That is the sort of change that people can look at and say, that is what I want my country to be like.

You know, the sadness doesn't stop with the death of the children. We are now seeing more and more studies coming out about the impact on people who have abortions. In August this past year, 100 scientists, medical and mental health professionals, released a joint statement that abortion does indeed hurt women. The Supreme Court of the United States concluded some women do regret their ab ortions and can suffer severe depression and loss of self-esteem. These professionals have officially confirmed these facts. They say the number of women adversely affected by abortions cannot be overlooked by the medical community.

In looking at this in our own family situation, every one of our children is incredibly precious. If I think of one of them not being there, it is one of those stunning sort of thoughts of despair, and yet to think of the 40 million who aren't here and of the stunning amount of despair there must be in a number of people's lives and hearts as they think, I made that decision fast, or I did that under a lot of pressure, or I didn't think I had another choice. But other choices did exist. People want to adopt, and people want to adopt Down syndrome children. As TED KENNEDY and I recognized, in my bill we got passed last year on prenatally and postnatally diagnosed diseases, which established a list of people who wanted to adopt Down syndrome children or children with special needs--some people look at a child in that situation and say, I can't handle that, and I understand. But there are people who believe they can handle it and they want to take a child and raise it.

So I hope as we look forward, we will work together and say, this is something that shouldn't be happening the way it is in the United States and we want to make it different. I hope we will recognize these young people who are marching out here now, who are hoping for change, and understand the change they want is quite valuable, it is beautiful, it is life affirming, and that ultimately it is going to happen.

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

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