Speeches

Mr. President, I appreciate the opportunity to address these important issues today. I thank my friend and colleague from Oregon for outlining his reasons for objecting to this legislation. I feel the need to respond to a few things that he said because they call for an immediate response.

First, he noted that there were two votes cast earlier this week that he described as part of an ongoing pattern, an ongoing campaign among Senate Republicans, that according to my colleague are “anti-women.” This is offensive on a variety of levels.

First, when you consider that abortion is no respecter of persons – and it’s not just male babies aborted, it’s also female babies. There are parts of the world where abortion of female babies occurs in much higher numbers, in many cases because they are female babies.

Elective abortion is itself an act of violence against a human form, against a human life all be it, a life in utero.

I remember a few months ago we were holding a hearing, of all things, addressing issues relating to wild horses and burros in the Western United States. Certain wild horse populations have grown out of control: they’ve devastated range lands; they’ve depleted resources available to them; and many of them are starving, malnourished and suffering.

There have been programs that have sought not only to help them in one way or another, but also to sterilize them. I never thought I would be part of significant hearing addressing the non-sexy topic of equine contraception but in this instance, we had one.

One of our witnesses was from an organization devoted to preventing cruelty to animals, explained that one of the most effective techniques of horse birth control involves a sterilization procedure.

When I asked why that was not the preferred method, she said, “Because in many instances it can result in the loss of the unborn horse.” When I asked her why that mattered, she said, “Well, because it’s a life, notwithstanding the fact that it hasn’t been born; it’s cruel to the unborn baby horse. It’s cruel to the foal.”

If it’s cruel to the foul, why isn’t it cruel to the baby, whether it’s a male baby or a female baby? This is not “anti-women.”

There’s also the suggestion that the campaign somehow involves a Republican in every exam room. And that according to those who advocate pro-life positions, they would relegate health care to the healthy and wealthy.
Well, this gets back to the very point I was just making, Mr. President.

An exam room – actual healthcare – involves protecting and preserving human life.

An elective abortion, by contrast, has one object – that is, the termination of a human life. An unborn in utero human life, but a human life just the same.

You can say whatever you want about it, but to call it healthcare to me is counterintuitive. Not just to me, but to many, many Americans who find the practice abhorrent and are shocked by the thought that the U.S. government will be subsidizing it – whether through its tax policy, or through more direct forms or as we see today, or both.

As to the suggestion that politicians ought to stay out of this issue, well, let me ask you this. What about the idea that politicians and therefore lawmakers ought to stay out of other issues involving violence to a human being?

There was a day and age in this country where people would say that lawmakers ought to stay out of other issues involving violence, of domestic violence. “That’s a family matter after all, politicians ought to stay out. The law should have nothing to do with that.”

Well, it involves violence to another human being. To say simply that politicians and therefore lawmakers, and therefore the law, ought to stay out of a topic means to suggest that it’s somehow beyond the reach of the law.

If we have reached – if we ever do reach – the point where we can’t say no human being can kill another human being, we’ve got really, really big problems.

So, we’re not talking here about an exam room; we’re not talking about procedures designed to promote, to heal, to prolong life. We’re talking about a procedure to end life.

This is itself not a bill that talks about the appropriateness or lack thereof of elective abortion. This simply says that given how many Americans feel about this, as many of us in this very room feel about abortion, we shouldn’t be subsidizing it and we shouldn’t be pretending that it’s something that it is not.

Finally, let me remind this body, and anyone who may be watching from outside this body, that of the legislation we voted on this week, one of those pieces of legislation didn’t even involve abortion at all. It didn’t regulate any facet of abortion. It dealt only indirectly with the topic of abortion, but had nothing to do with the performance or availability of an abortion itself.

It simply said that when a baby is born following, or in the middle of, a failed attempt at an abortion, if that baby is born alive – if an abortion is attempted and that baby is born alive, notwithstanding the attempt by the abortionist to kill the baby – that baby shouldn’t simply be neglected.
In any other circumstance, to neglect a human being – particularly a vulnerable, brand-new, newborn baby, an infant – to neglect a baby and allow that baby to die of exposure, to not administer life-saving care or nutrition or sustenance to that baby; to neglect the baby and allow that baby to die of exposure – would be a crime. In some circumstances, it may well be murder; in others it would be a serious criminal form of deliberate child neglect.

So to suggest that a baby is somehow different as a result of the subjective intent of the abortionist to kill the baby, and that we shouldn’t make sure that that baby is properly cared for following its birth, is barbaric.

Look, I get it; not everybody shares my viewpoint with regard to when human life begins. I get it; not everybody shares my view with regard to abortion policy. Now, I will defend to my dying day my views on these issues and I will not shrink from them.

But regardless of whether you agree with me on that, I seriously question how anyone could credibly maintain that a human being born alive following a failed abortion attempt shouldn’t be given the same protection under the law as any other human being.

In other words, the humanness of a baby shouldn’t depend on that baby’s wanted-ness. The fact that anyone wanted to kill that baby before the baby was born doesn’t give anyone the right to kill the baby with impunity.

That’s what they voted down this week.

So let’s not pretend that this is about exam rooms; let’s not pretend that this is about actual healthcare; let’s not pretend that this is somehow an “anti-woman” strategy.

By the way, many women I know – most, I would say – actually find quite offensive the suggestion that to be in favor of protecting babies is somehow anti-woman. This is offensive, and it’s sad to me more than anything.

This was a lost opportunity that we had this week to protect the dignity of human life. Not just unborn human life, but human beings that have been born.

Mr. President, one day we will look back and see this week through sad eyes, in much the same way we now look back on other episodes in American history in which we have failed to accord the full dignity to a human life that each human life truly deserves.

Thank you, Mr. President.

I yield the floor.