PARTIAL-BIRTH ABORTION BAN ACT OF 2003--CONFERENCE REPORT
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Mr. ENSIGN. Mr. President, the first thing I want to address is
this: the other side has been talking about the health of the mother
and that this bill includes a provision if the life of the mother is
threatened. As far as the health of the mother is concerned, a
select panel convened by the American Medical Association could not
find any "identified circumstance" where a partial-birth abortion
was the only appropriate alternative.
We have heard a lot of testimony from OB/GYNs and all kinds of
medical experts that this procedure is never necessary. To argue
that it is somehow medically necessary is a false argument. This
procedure is so grotesque that when it is described, it makes people
shudder. I once described this procedure when I spoke to some high
school kids, and I used it as an example. I got complaints from the
parents because we talked about such a gruesome procedure in a
school. I can understand why they would be upset.
But people have to understand that this gruesome procedure is
happening in the United States. What we are trying to do now in the
Congress is to say that this is so outrageous that we need to ban
I am a health care professional, and I cannot even imagine a doctor
or a nurse being involved in one of these procedures, delivering the
baby out of the birth canal up to about here, the neck—arms and legs
moving, holding that little baby in their hand, feeling life in
their hand, a little heartbeat—and voluntarily taking forceps and
jabbing them into the back of the skull. The skull is too big to
come out so they have to collapse the skull down, sucking out the
contents of the skull—the brains, basically. The baby at that point
can feel pain. It is documented. In fact, it feels pain more than a
normal child that has inhibitory pain fibers. We are saying this is
somehow humane for the child, and that is literally beyond me.
This procedure is completely, in my mind, indefensible; it is
infanticide. I want to talk about abortion in general because the
other side is saying this is just chipping away at the rights of
abortion. I remember when President Clinton said that abortion
should be safe, legal, and rare. I think those were his terms. I was
thinking to myself, safe, I can understand that; legal, from his
perspective, I can understand that; but if you don't believe it is
wrong, who cares whether it is rare?
If there is nothing wrong with abortion, why should it be rare? Who
cares? If it is not a baby, if it is just a blob of tissue, like the
other side says, who cares whether it happens all the time? Why do
we care whether it is rare?
The reason even somebody like Bill Clinton says it should be rare is
because there is something in our conscience that is telling us
abortion is wrong. Eighty-six percent of Down syndrome babies are
aborted today—86 percent. We have an incredible young man right out
here who runs the elevators. His name is Jimmy. He has Down
We have a great organization in Las Vegas called Opportunity Village
which deals with a lot of people. It employs a lot of people, finds
them a job, people with either congenital problems, whether Down
syndrome or other problems, or whether they have had a brain injury.
We are saying to those people: You don't have the right to live. We
are saying to the Jimmys of the world: You know what, you aren't
perfect, so you don't have the right to live. That is what abortion
is about. Is it going to be difficult? Yes, but life isn't
guaranteed to be easy.
Mr. President, we have to look at what we are becoming as a society.
If we do not value human life to the point where it is okay to have
little imperfections, what are we becoming as a society? Haven't we
seen in history the societies that have tried to create the perfect
race, how immoral that was? Isn't that what we are trying to do
somewhat with abortions and some of the other new medical
technologies that are coming out?
This is a very emotional issue, and I understand people who believe
abortion should be legal. There are a lot of women who have had
abortions, who have gone through incredible stress—post-abortion
syndrome, as it is known. It is likened to post-traumatic stress
syndrome. I feel bad, and I feel pain for those women and men who
have been involved with abortions.
Sometimes as a defense mechanism, one tries to justify what one did.
I think it is important for us to show compassion for those people
who have been involved and it is important not to judge other
people's motives. But at the same time, we have to look, as a
country, at whether it is right or wrong. If it is a baby, it is
wrong. It just is. If it is a baby, it is murder. If it is not a
baby, if it is some tissue, like the other side says, that is
exactly right, it should be legal. It should be absolutely legal, if
it is just tissue. But if it is a human life, then that human life
deserves to be defended. That innocent human life deserves all the
protections of the law, whether it has Down syndrome, spina bifida,
or any other congenital ailment. It deserves the same protection
under our law any other "normal" healthy child has.
We have to look at ourselves as a society and what type of a society
we want to have going into the future. America's greatness has been
because we have had strong moral standards. This is the great moral
problem of our day about which we have to do some soul-searching as
a country, to be on our knees in prayer to figure out the right
course of action. For me, it is clear.
I urge all of our colleagues to do a lot of soul-searching on this
issue. I believe if you are honest, people will see the rights of a
baby deserve to be protected.
I thank the manager of the bill and others who have been involved in
this issue for the great work they have done. This is truly a fight
worth doing and worth doing right.