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Public Statements

Forty Years of Victims' Legacy of Abortion

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. FORTENBERRY. Mr. Speaker, this Friday, hundreds of thousands of people will gather in Washington for a peaceful march, exercising the most American of values--the right to assemble and the right to freedom of speech. Among the people who will come are multitudes of young persons from all over America--young people who are the inheritors of the great civil rights traditions of this land. These young people are pro-life. Mr. Speaker, they're really saying something pretty simple.

They are saying that the time for honesty has come, that the time for a new national conversation has come, that the time for the violence to end has come, and that the time since the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand some 40 years ago has inflicted a deep wound on ourselves and the very soul of this country.

Over the past few decades, we have witnessed an evolving desensitization to abortion. It has become too easy to think of abortion as a procedure, as something clinical, somehow normal, removed. Disguised in the mantle and vocabulary of health, minds and hearts can easily become numb to what abortion really is, to what it really does and to who really dies.

But the youth among us, they know better. They know that women deserve better.

Abortion is so often the result of abandonment. A woman, in not knowing where to turn, falls into the grasps of the abortion industry, which says, We can quietly make this go away. There are no consequences here; just pay over there. But the consequences are so very real. Abortion is an act of violence. The woman so often carries the wound from this act of violence imposed upon her. Her unborn child dies. The abortion industry profits from this pain, and the other responsible party--the man--escapes his responsibilities. This is why the early feminist movement saw abortion as another form of male domination over women.

Mr. Speaker, young people, they know this. They sense this. They know instinctively that the Supreme Court's decision was a dinosaur decision, not based on science. They know that the consequences of abortion are very real, and they're simply saying there's a better way. There has to be a better way. We should be loving enough and caring enough. We certainly are big enough. We certainly have resources enough to rally as a community and help a person no matter how difficult her circumstances. They are saying no woman should be left alone or in isolation. We are a community committed to the beautiful gift of life. Mr. Speaker, that's the message from these young people who will gather by the tens of thousands this Friday in Washington, and I'm proud to stand with them.

With that, I yield to my good friend, Congressman Smith.


Mr. FORTENBERRY. If the gentleman would perhaps be interested in entering into a bit of a dialogue, and I'm sorry I missed your earlier statement, but let me say to you, thank you for your stalwart leadership, your deep commitment to the beautiful gift of life, for saying to America consistently, constantly, fervently, with heart and emotion for 30-plus years, I think you've been here.

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Thirty-three.

Mr. FORTENBERRY. There is a better way. We can do better than this. Women deserve better. But in your last comment, you touched upon the issue of sex-selected abortion, and I wonder if in your earlier comments you talked about policies, such as the one-child policy in China, which are taking hold, sadly, in other parts of South Asia, how they are affecting population imbalance and how it ends up being the little girls, the unborn little girls who are primarily the targets of these state-imposed coercions on families. So you have this very significant imbalance in the population because of the targeting of unborn little girls in the womb for sex-selected abortion. Perhaps you touched on that earlier.

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. No, I did not.

Mr. FORTENBERRY. It's a very important part of this overall discussion, to talk about the consequences of where all of this leads. And in a country like China, which has imposed this brutality upon its own people, the women who have come here undercover, we've had them in our hearings. They've had to be behind screens because they fear reprisal from the Chinese Government toward their families, who've talked about being victimized by coercive abortion, that issue plus the issue of how this is created, and it is targeted primarily at unborn girls, the grave injustice of that.

I know you're so learned and have such details on that subject, perhaps you can re-raise that if you didn't earlier talk about it.


Mr. FORTENBERRY. If the gentleman would yield for a moment, I think it's important, an important tangent. It's not tangential. It's an element of this discussion because it shows once we give up on this basic fundamental human right, once we let go of our civil rights tradition and we don't include every person, including those who are most vulnerable in the womb, we can see the consequences. Maybe not here just yet, to a large degree, but we can certainly see the consequences of what I talked about earlier in terms of the desensitization of what abortion really is.

So in other places it's lent itself to coercive population control, and even to the shocking horror of taking the life of little girls simply because they're a girl. Now, that still bothers our conscience here in this country, but you can see how it's related to the deeper problem of once we start down this pathway, we desensitize ourselves to the hard, to the important reality that the life within is deserving of protection; that women who perhaps are in very difficult circumstances deserve better than this, deserve a fullness of commitment from you and me and the United States Congress and communities of concern everywhere that there is a better way.

We do not have to do this to one another. We do not have to impose this wound upon women. We do not have to think in this paradigm when there are hard circumstances.

We can do it differently.

And I think it's important to have a discussion about the broader consequences of what is happening all around us because we desensitize ourselves in what I call a dinosaur decision, because it wasn't based on science. We didn't have the fullness of technology back then, which fortunately helped so many of us understand just how that small, tiny little life is viable, is real, and is growing and can reach its fullness of potentiality if we just nurture it.

And sometimes people who are in circumstances that are tough and difficult and need a little help with that nurturing, they deserve that support and help. That's our message. That's our message.

So if we can turn this back and build upon a new ideal that life is beautiful, life is a gift, it is worthy of support, not only just from individuals but from the culture at large, I think we'll go a long way towards stopping this aggressive, horrific assault that is happening, primarily in other places but is a threat to potentially happen here, where you're even going so far as to select out the little girl for termination because she's a girl.

This is particularly hard for me, to be honest with you, because I have five daughters. Just kind of happened that way. And I remember, in our last ultrasound for the baby, she's 7, I still call her a little baby, but when we saw that child in the womb, my youngest one at that time looked at me and said, Dad, I hope it's a boy so you have someone to play with.

But technology has helped us understand that life, the nature of that life. And so that's why the Supreme Court decision was not scientific, terribly misguided, has inflicted a deep wound upon us, has given us a false notion of choice and freedom, which tickles the ear, sounds good at one level, but the consequences are oh so deep and real for the individual, for those who are responsible and have been able to escape their responsibility, for geopolitical movements now that have ended up in coercive population control measures, which is grievously unjust, particular to women in far away places.

Going back to what I said as well, if you'd like, describe some of the testimony that we heard from the women who came from China in secret, who had to be, again, behind screens because we were fearful, and they were as well, for reprisals against their families back in China simply because they dared stand up and say, the government should not impose coercive abortion upon me.

There was one woman, as I recall, who was in tears. She had four abortions imposed upon her by the government.

You recall that hearing last year because you were responsible for it, and I think it's a great credit to your leadership.

But again, as hard as this is to look at, as painful as it is, I don't think there's been a more powerful hearing in which I've participated in the United States Congress, hearing from the victim of a government-imposed, coerced abortion and what the consequences were on her.

I'm sorry. Perhaps you had raised that earlier. I didn't have the privilege of hearing your earlier talk, but I think that perspective is important as well.


Mr. FORTENBERRY. As we're winding down here--we only have a few moments left--I think perhaps we can talk about some good news as well as some common ground. Because everybody listening to this and this important dialogue, this highly sensitive dialogue, may not agree with us. But the vast majority of Americans do agree that the government should not be entangled in this. In other words, taxpayer money should not be going for the provision of abortion. That's one bit of good news.

The second bit of good news, I think, is, again, those of us who have been here a little while, who have been in these trenches trying to beg and plead for an increase of awareness as to what the consequences of abortion are, young people are recognizing that, again, there's got to be a better way. They've lived with this through their generation. They've seen the scars, seen the wounds, seen the effects on society. And they're coming forward and saying, Women deserve better. Can't we be loving enough, can't we be big enough to do something different here?

And I think that's a great sign of encouragement for two reasons. One is, projecting forward, maybe we can reshape society. But also, heal the wounds that have already occurred. Because they are substantive and deep. And I think it's important. And young people, I believe, recognize this. They're there saying, Don't make this choice. It's a false choice, particularly if you feel coerced or abandoned. There are people here ready to help, love, get you through. But if there is that deep wound, we're also here to heal and help. And I think it's just such a beautiful message.

It inspires me that so many young people would come to the Capitol and say, Legislators, older generation of America, let's change this paradigm. Let's change this idea. Because it's not serving our country. It's not serving our people. It's leaving us deeply, deeply hurt. And we can do better.


Mr. FORTENBERRY. Again, I thank the gentleman for your poignant words, your passion, your deep belief in this. So I think now is the time to let the healing begin. Let's put the past behind us. Let's look forward, marching arm-in-arm with the new civil rights movement that these young people are the great inheritors of, to say that we as a Nation can all stand for the beautiful gift of life.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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