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Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Speaker, I yield myself 3 minutes.

I rise in opposition to this bill. This will be the 10th vote we've had to restrict women's access to health care since Republicans took control of the House in 2011, and there are plenty of other things we should be doing.

The bill imposes a nationwide 20-week abortion ban. It's unconstitutional, but it's also dangerous to the health and safety of American women. The narrow health exception in the bill only allows for abortions that are necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman. It's shortsighted at best and cruel at worst.

Many things can go wrong in pregnancy, and this bill would force a doctor to wait until a woman's condition was life-threatening before performing an abortion.

Nonlife-threatening conditions couldn't be treated if this bill were law, which could result in permanent health problems for some women, including infertility.

Severe or fatal conditions may also arise with a fetus later in pregnancy and, if enacted into law, this bill would require some women to carry a fetus to term, even in the situation where that fetus has been diagnosed with a lethal medical condition, a heartbreaking scenario.

The rape and incest exceptions are insulting and excessively narrow. The rape and incest exceptions that were added to the bill after the committee's markup are just incredibly disappointing. They require reporting the crime to law enforcement prior to seeking care. It shows a distrust of women and a lack of understanding of the reality of sexual assault.

Only 35 percent of women report sexual assaults, and there are many reasons for that that are complex, including fear of reprisal--78 percent of rape victims know their offender--shame, wanting to put the incident behind them.

Also, this bill is unconstitutional. It's a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, where the Court held that, prior to viability, abortions may be banned only if there are meaningful exceptions to protect the woman's life and health. For over four decades these principles have been upheld, and this bill blatantly disregards them.

Finally, I want to urge my colleagues to oppose this bill. It's an attack on women's health, on our constitutional freedoms, and it seeks to take important medical decisions out of the hands of women, their doctors and their families and instead entrust those decisions to Congress. It's a misguided effort.

I oppose the bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.


Ms. LOFGREN. Before yielding to the ranking member, I'd just like to note the situation of my friend, Vicky Wilson, who found out, unfortunately, in the 20th week of her pregnancy that her much-wanted and desired child had all of her brains formed outside of the cranium and would not survive, and if she carried the fetus to term, likely her uterus would have ruptured. Under this bill, Vicky would have been forced into that heartbreaking situation. I think that's simply wrong.

I yield 3 minutes to the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers).


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, before yielding to the ranking member of the Constitution Subcommittee, I would just like to note that we do not need to change the law. Dr. Gosnell was convicted and he's doing two life sentences in prison for murder under current law.

I yield 3 minutes to the ranking member of the Constitution Subcommittee, the gentleman from New York (Mr. Nadler).

Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I think this is, in many ways, a very sad day for this House. As we know, last week there was an uproar in the country relative to a statement that few women become pregnant from rape. That, of course, is not correct. There's no science to support that.

And of course, this week, we have a bill that's been altered to add a very limited exception for rape and incest that would be available only if the victim has reported the crime to the authorities.

And of course, as our last speaker has indicated, this actually makes the situation for the victim of violence, a victim of rape more onerous than for the perpetrators of the violence, something that I think is really quite wrong.

The bill attacks the rights of women, guaranteed by our Constitution, to seek a safe, legal procedure when they need it.

I have two children. I was thrilled when I became pregnant. Most women are thrilled and look forward to a safe childbirth. But for some, pregnancy can be dangerous, and the restrictions that are imposed in this bill that do not have adequate health exceptions can endanger these women.

At the subcommittee, we heard from a witness, a professor at George Washington University, Ms. Christy Zink, about her story. She courageously told her story of seeking abortion care after her much-wanted pregnancy was diagnosed with severe fetal anomalies at the 21st week; in fact, an anomaly that would mean that the much-wanted child would not survive and that, in fact, her health could be compromised had she proceeded.

Under this bill, she would not have the opportunity to preserve her own health. She would be required to carry a nonviable fetus to term, and I just think that's wrong. I don't think that's something that the country is asking the Congress to do.

The idea that the exception for incest only applies to those under 18 is another mystery. If a girl is molested and raped by her father at age 18, is she less worthy of the protection of her health and the right to get abortion care than her sister at age 17? I think not. It simply makes no sense at all for that provision.

I'd like to comment also briefly on the repeated discussion of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. He is a monster. There's no one that I have heard in this Congress or in this country who defends what Dr. Gosnell did. In fact, he's in prison, serving a double life sentence for murder.

What he did was illegal, in addition to being abhorrent in every way. We don't need to change the law to put someone like Dr. Gosnell behind bars. In fact, he's behind bars right now.

I think that the use of this case as a rationale for denying American women health care that they may need is terribly wrong. I would urge a ``no'' vote on the bill.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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