Following are excerpts from Father Frank’s appearance on the Hannity and Colmes show on Thursday, June 29, 2000.
HANNITY: Welcome back to HANNITY & COLMES. I’m Sean Hannity. By a vote of five to four, the Supreme Court gave abortion advocates cause for celebration yesterday. The highest court in the land struck down a controversial Nebraska law that banned the late-term procedure that is known as partial-birth abortion. In a separate case, the court upheld the Colorado law that banned abortion protesters from coming within eight feet of individuals trying to enter an abortion clinic.
HANNITY: Joining us from Washington, Susan Dudley. She’s the deputy director of the National Abortion Federation. And also in Washington, Father Frank Pavone. And he’s with Priests for Life. Welcome back.
Susan, ... I just-I can usually understand the left’s arguments. I can understand people that say they’re pro-choice. I can understand it. I disagree with it, I understand it. But the procedure of partial birth where babies’ legs are brought down to the birth canal, scissors are inserted in the back of the neck, you suction out the brain and you collapse the skull of a perfectly formed baby. I can’t fathom how any person with a conscience and a soul could support that. I just don’t understand it. Can you explain it to me?
SUSAN DUDLEY, NATIONAL ABORTION FEDERATION: I think the first thing I want to say is your description of performing this procedure on a perfectly formed human baby is probably a distortion. It’s probably a result of the kind of rhetoric that has surrounded this debate for the last five years.
HANNITY: Susan, I’ve interviewed doctors who have performed it. I’ve talked to nurses who have been there. I spoke to one just the other day. And I was asking-I mean, according to the doctor, many of these are viable. On their own, could live outside the womb without the assistance of the mother. This is what the doctor told me the other day. He said, "Sean, I’ve been there." He said, on another floor, on the second floor, saving the same child’s life. On another floor where they’re inserting the scissors and suctioning out the brains and collapsing the skull. These are perfectly formed babies. It’s barbaric. How do you-most people that describe themselves as pro-choice say they don’t support this. Why do you support it?
DUDLEY: I support medical decisions being made by doctors, not by politicians. I think that it’s very important that in a woman’s individual medical case, her doctor is able to assess her situation, assess her physical needs and do what’s best for her.
HANNITY: C. Everett Koop, the-C. Everett Koop...
DUDLEY: I don’t want politicians-I don’t want anybody in Washington...
HANNITY: Right, I understand.
DUDLEY: ... making the decisions for me.
HANNITY: All right, C. Everett Koop, former surgeon general, once said that with all that modern medicine has to offer, partial-birth abortion is never, under any circumstances, necessary to save the life of the mother. It’s not a medical decision, ma’am. It has nothing to do with medicine. It has to do with a woman that just decided she doesn’t want this thing anymore. That’s all it is.
DUDLEY: For every physician that you find who will make that kind of statement, you can find other physicians who will say something different. And that’s true of virtually any medical procedure where there are options about how to get the procedure done.
COLMES: Father Pavone, let me (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Do you believe that government should be making decisions about what medical choices a woman and her doctor should jointly make? Should the government be involved in that?
FATHER FRANK PAVONE, PRIESTS FOR LIFE: No, but government can prevent the abuse of medicine. Shouldn’t medical procedures be governed by moral principles. We’re not talking here about politicians practicing medicine. We’re talking about public servants protecting human lives.
COLMES: But, sir, this is...
PAVONE: But my problem...
COLMES: Go ahead.
PAVONE: My problem with the decision is my same problem with previous abortion decisions by the court, that they are disconnected from the reality of why women get abortions. Women don’t get abortions because of freedom of choice. They get them because they feel they have no freedom and no choice. I collaborate very closely with a group called feminists for life and we’re dedicated to providing women real choices to do what they know is right.
COLMES: Would that woman be allowed then to make a choice if she chose getting all the information to have this procedure if that’s what she wanted to do? Why shouldn’t a woman have that choice?
PAVONE: You know, isn’t it sad that we live in a society where we can map the human genome, we can go to the moon and come back again, but we can find no better way to advance the life and health of a woman than to allow her partially born child to be stuck in the back of a neck with scissors and its brains sucked out? I think we can do better for women than having that done.
COLMES: Father, never before has our government-has the legislature decided that a particular procedure done by a doctor in an operating room should be illegal. This is the first time that would have ever happened in this country. And most people, conservatives especially, say they want less government. All of a sudden, it seems they want government involved in this decision that should be between a woman, her doctor, her mate and her god and nobody else.
PAVONE: Yeah, but you heard what the president said. He said that this decision is consistent with Roe versus Wade. And I want to thank the court for making it clear to this country that the so-called right to choose ... they don’t want to finish this sentence, they don’t want to say choose what. Well, now the country knows. The so-called right to choose means and includes the right to kill a baby who is mostly already out of the mother’s body. Well, you know the statistics, you know the polls. Sixty-eight percent of the American people want a ban on this procedure.
DUDLEY: The fact is that women don’t go to their doctors and say, "I want a particular type of abortion procedure." They say, "I need to get an abortion." And then they trust their doctor to go back on all of his training, all of his experience and all of his skills and provide her with the best medical care that he can give her.
PAVONE: And there is-there are those studies...
DUDLEY: And if that means one type of abortion procedure over another type of abortion procedure, once she has made the decision that she needs an abortion, then that’s the only thing that we can with good conscience allow.
HANNITY: All right, we will-when we come back, we will allow the father to respond. And we’ll see how pure and extreme Susan’s position is. I’ll challenge her on that when we come back on the other side of the break. Please stay tuned.
COLMES: Welcome back to HANNITY & COLMES. I’m Alan Colmes.
Father Pavone, with all due respect, you have-you would like to see all abortions outlawed in this country.
COLMES: Is that right? And isn’t partial-birth abortion one step in what some might call a slippery slope toward outlawing all abortions?
PAVONE: Of course. We’ve never made any secret of the fact that we want to outlaw all abortions because this country is founded on the principle of the equality of all human beings. This whole discussion and this whole decision that just came out this week, it’s like discussing, you know, should it be legal to shoot someone in the heart instead of shooting them in the head, instead of looking at the whole problem of shooting in the first place. And our solution is very simple. Why can’t we try to love them and protect them both...
COLMES: I understand that...
PAVONE: ... both mother and child?
COLMES: I understand that your religious belief is that abortion-there should be no abortions. That’s your religious belief. What about people who have other beliefs than yours?
PAVONE: Of course.
COLMES: I mean, the idea of codifying into law one particular set of beliefs it seems would go against what we stand for in this country, which is that people with other points of view should have the freedom to do as they choose as well.
PAVONE: Well, I’m glad you bring this up because people have the right to believe whatever they want about when life begins or if the baby has a soul. But there are some people who don’t believe that the newborn is really a person. Maybe somebody doesn’t believe that you and I are people. The points is this: that the law does not require us to impose or to remove any beliefs. The law is supposed to protect us despite people’s beliefs.
HANNITY: Hey, father...
PAVONE: So if someone doesn’t believe that I’m human, then they can’t kill me.
DUDLEY: I think it’s very important...
HANNITY: Hang on a second. We only have a minute left. Susan, hang on a second, Susan. I want to bring up a point with you, because I only have a minute and we’re going to lose the freedom to choose for the Boy Scouts, by the way, interesting. I want to ask you this. I want to find out how pure and extreme you are, because you said you don’t want the government and you don’t want a politician involved in this. Does that mean a woman a week before her due date goes to a doctor, decides she doesn’t want the baby, no health reason involved, doesn’t want the baby, you support the right of that woman to have an abortion? Would you support that?
DUDLEY: The Supreme Court has found...
HANNITY: I don’t want to know what the Supreme Court says. I want to know what you say. I want to know what you think. Would you support that? Yes or no?
DUDLEY: Nobody can make a decision about when a woman can be a mother other than that woman and her family and her...
HANNITY: So you do support it?
DUDLEY: ... religious counsel, and the people that know her and know her circumstances.
HANNITY: A baby that’s viable, that one week away would be born. You support that? Well, that is-how did you get so callous?
PAVONE: But that argument supports infanticide.
HANNITY: That’s heartless.
PAVONE: And that argument can be used to support the killing of a newborn child.
COLMES: All right, father, we thank you very much.
PAVONE: I thank you.
COLMES: Susan, thank you for being with us tonight.
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