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Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I have a unanimous consent request that I will make in a moment to kind of set the stage for what I am asking the Senate to consider. We will be asking that we schedule a vote on two pieces of legislation: the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, S. 1670, which is my legislation; and S. 1696, the Women's Health Protection Act, by Senator Blumenthal.
Very briefly, what I am trying to do is to have an opportunity for the body to talk about two pieces of legislation that relate to the abortion issue, the role of the Federal Government. Very quickly, my legislation would ban abortion at the 20-week period--the fifth month of pregnancy--based on the theory that the child can feel pain at that point in the pregnancy and that the standard of care for the medical community is that you cannot operate on an unborn fetus at the 20-week period without administering anesthesia, and the reason for that is because the child can feel pain.
There have been individuals born at the 20-week period who have survived. But the theory of the case is not based on the medical viability under Roe vs. Wade; it is a new theory that the State has a compelling interest in protecting an unborn child at this stage of pregnancy. The partial-birth abortion ban, which applies at 24 weeks, is backed up to 20 weeks.
Here is what medical journals tell parents to do at 20 weeks: An unborn child can hear and respond to sounds. Talk or sing. The unborn child enjoys hearing your voice.
It is a whole list of things about the unborn child in the 20-week period.
We are one of seven countries that allow abortions at this stage in the pregnancy, along with China, North Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada, and the Netherlands.
So I would ask the body to consider having a debate on my legislation about whether we should limit elective abortions at the 20-week period and also a debate on Senator Blumenthal's legislation that basically would allow the courts to set aside several State restrictions on abortion. We are going to present a series of actions at the State level. I think his legislation would allow the courts to have a literal construction in terms of being able to strike down these provisions. I disagree with my good friend. We are good friends, although we have a different view. The Senator from Connecticut made a statement when he introduced the bill that every Senator should be on the record when it comes to this legislation. I agree. I hope every Senator would be on the record when it comes to my legislation.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that at a time to be determined by the majority leader, in consultation with the Republican leader, the Senate proceed to consideration of S. 1670, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and S. 1696, the Women's Health Protection Act; that there be up to 8 hours of debate equally divided in the usual form, to run concurrently; that there be no amendments, points of order, or motions in order; that upon the use or yielding back of the time, the Senate proceed to vote on S. 1670; that following the disposition of S. 1670, the Senate proceed to vote on S. 1696; and that both bills be subject to a 60-vote affirmative threshold for passage.
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Mr. GRAHAM. We already have laws in this country banning elective abortions at the 24-week period. It is called the partial-birth abortion ban. It has been through the Supreme Court, it went through this body, it went through the House, and it got overwhelming support. That bill has exceptions for rape and incest and cases that involve the life of the mother; so would this. We are just backing it up 4 weeks, and the reason we are backing it up 4 weeks is because at 20 weeks people have been born and survived. I know twins who were born at 20 weeks.
But the theory of the case is that the government should have the right to protect an unborn child, and most of the abortions are so far along that the medical science requires anesthesia before you operate. The question is, If we are going to require a doctor to provide anesthesia to the baby before they operate to save its life, should we authorize abortions at that point?
The Washington Post poll showed just a few months ago that by 56 to 27 percent, people supported the 20-week pain-capable bill--60 percent women.
At the end of the day I hope we can have a debate on this issue. The reason I brought it up today is because this is the anniversary of the Dr. Gosnell case, which was one of the most horrendous cases in American jurisprudence, where a doctor received life sentences for three counts of murder. He was an abortion doctor aborting babies at the latest stage of pregnancy. If the babies survived the abortion, he would cut the spinal cord. Three women died as a result of the care given by him. It was a chamber of horrors. It was a year ago today.
I hope people will not forget what Dr. Gosnell did, and if we can prevent occurrences such as that, we should, and that is what this bill is designed to do--to make sure the unborn child at this stage of the pregnancy has a chance to continue on. There are only seven countries in the world that allow abortions at this stage, and I hope that when this debate is over, the United States will not be in the seven.
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