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Honoring Pope John Paul II

Location: Washington, DC

HONORING POPE JOHN PAUL II -- (House of Representatives - April 12, 2005)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, last week I was blessed to travel with a group of my colleagues to Rome to attend the funeral mass of his Holiness, Pope John Paul II, one of the greatest defenders of human life the world has ever known.

Pope John Paul II was a man of profound holiness, profound peace, and profound love. He not only served the Catholic Church as the Vicar of Christ on Earth, but also reached out and touched people of all faiths as he fought valiantly to liberate the oppressed, especially in his native Eastern Europe where he contributed significantly to the fall of communism.

Of all of his accomplishments, I am most appreciative of his unwavering commitments to the defense and protection of all human life, especially the most defenseless, the unborn.

The Pope came to Miami in September of 1987. I had just given birth to my youngest daughter, Patricia Marie, and so I wanted to be present to hear and see him at Tropical Park, which is located in my old State senate district, but the doctors told me I could not attend. However, as I watched on TV, I remember thinking how fitting it was that I would be holding my newborn baby in my arms while watching the staunchest defender of human life praying and saying mass in my hometown. It was a feeling I have never and I shall never forget.

The Holy Father can never imagine how he touched, in a most profound way, all those who heard and saw him wherever he traveled with his goodness and fierce protection for the sanctity of life.

In his letter, The Gospel of Life, John Paul II vigorously reaffirmed the value of human life and at the same time presents a pressing appeal addressed to each and every person to respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life.

He writes, ``Even in the midst of difficulties and uncertainties, every person sincerely open to truth and goodness can, by the light of reason and the hidden action of grace, come to recognize in the natural law the sacred value of human life from its very beginning until its end and can affirm the right of every human being to have this primary good respected to the highest degree.

``Upon the recognition of this right,'' he continued, ``every human community and the political community itself are founded.''

And as a wife and as a mother of two teenage daughters, I also seek to defend and protect the sanctity of an innocent human life; and to that end I have introduced the bill, House Resolution 748, the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, CIANA, which currently has 127 cosponsors and which will be marked up in the House Committee on the Judiciary tomorrow.

This legislation makes it a Federal offense to knowingly transport a minor across a State line with the intent that she obtain an abortion in circumvention of a State's parental consent or parental notification law. CIANA also requires that a parent or, if necessary, a legal guardian be notified pursuant to a default Federal parental notification rule when a minor crosses State lines to obtain an abortion unless one of several carefully drawn exceptions are met.

A minor who is forbidden to drink alcohol, to stay out past a certain hour or to get her ears pierced without a parental consent is certainly not prepared to make a life-altering, hazardous and potentially fatal decision such as an abortion without the consultation or consent of at least one parent.

My legislation will close a loophole that allows adults not only help minors break States' laws by obtaining an abortion without parental consent but also contributes to ending the life of an innocent child.

I am hopeful that in this 109th session of Congress we will be successful in securing the rights of parents. As an ardent advocate for human rights for all, especially those suffering political and religious persecution, I join our Holy Father in his desire to see a world where all may live and work together in a spirit of peace, mutual respect and solidarity and where the sanctity of human life is preserved at each and every level.

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