tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN September 23, 2015 3:20am-3:46am EDT
we're going to have another vote abortion related on planned parenthood. and then we're going to have to try to figure out a way to fund the government. this responsibility is on the republicans. they control the house, they control the senate. it's not our responsibility. we've helped in any way we can. we've not held up anything procedurally. we don't intend to do that.
we want to move forward and get the government funded. but we're at a crossroads here. i'm not sure that we can make it with the time set, because of all these unnecessary votes that have been scheduled by the republican leader these last couple of weeks. i hope we can make it and not have to see the government shut down again. mr. president, we've seen that before. the american people have been to that rodeo before. and who have suffered? the american people. i would hope that the republican leader has a plan to help us get out of this morass that they've created. we'll do everything we can within reason to make sure that the american people are treated fairly in the upcoming spending bills. but we have to get there by october 1. mr. president, i see no other speakers here today. would the chair announce the business of the day? the presiding officer: under
the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to h.r. 36, which the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to the consideration of h.r. 36, an act to amend title 18, united states code, to protect pain-capable unborn children, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until 11:00 a.m. will be equally divided between the leaders or their designees. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: mr. president, i'd like to address the issue before the senate. it relates to the divisive and controversial issue of abortion. and it comes at an unusual moment in the history of the united states congress. this week for the first time the pope will be addressing a joint session of congress. it was 50 years ago when the
first pope visited the united states and the arrival of pope francis this week is a cause of great celebration. people from my state of illinois and across this nation, because of their respect of his leadership of the catholic church. it calls into question, of course, the relationship between religion and our government. this summer i finished a book called "mayflower" which told the story of the pilgrims coming to the united states, settling in our country, looking for a new opportunity, but looking more than anything for freedom of religious belief. they were followed by scores and thousands of others who came for the same reason. my mother was an immigrant to this country, brought here at the age of two. her mother brought her and her sister and brother to our shores for a variety of reasons, but there is one thing that sticks out in that journey.
up in my office i have something that my grandmother carried across the ocean from lithuania to the united states. it was a roman catholic prayer book written in lithuanian. it was contraband in 1911 in lithuania for her to possess it because the russians were in control, and the russians were imposing the orthodox religion and making it difficult to practice the catholic religion. i never knew my grandmother but she was one brave lady to bring three kids across the ocean and to stick in her bag that prayer book that meant so much to her, that prayer book which she could use in the united states of america without the government telling her she couldn't. we have tried to strike the right balance between religion and our democracy from the beginning, and our founding fathers, i believe, got it right. they said three things in the constitution about religion that
each of us would have the freedom to worship as we choose or to choose not to worship. secondly, that the government would not choose a religion, that we would not have an official government religion. and, third, there would be no religious tests for public office in america. i thought those were settled principles, but this presidential campaign suggests otherwise. we had the outrageous suggestion by a republican leader -- by a republican presidential candidate that a muslim should never serve as president of the united states. i would think a man of his background and learning would at least take the time to understand our constitution and the expressed provision which says that he is wrong. there will never be a religious litmus test to serve in public office in the united states. and now this week on the floor of the united states senate, we will have two votes on the issue of abortion. there was a time when this issue came before us frequently, not
so much lately. it is a devic divisive and controversial issue, that is for sure. but this week the republican senate leadership has allowed two of their presidential candidates to raise this issue on the floor of the united states senate. it is no coincidence that this issue comes before us the same week that the pope, the leader of the catholic church, will be addressing a joint session of congress. it is more than a coincidence. this particular bill relates to when a person can terminate a pregnancy. for 47 years, if i am not mistaken -- maybe i have got that calculation slightly wrong -- we've had supreme court guidance on when the government can play a role in thestition about the termination of -- play a role in the decision about the termination of a pregnancy. now there is an effort to change that basic guidance from the roe v. wade decision. each time you step into this
question, into something which seems as clear as at 20 weeks wilwe'll draw a line and then ar that there cannot be a legal termination of a pregnancy, you find that you're walking into an area of unsent. i remember meeting -- of uncertainty. i remember meeting many years ago a woman from illinois, from the town of napierville. in 1996 she told me a harrowing story of how legislation like the bill before us would have impacted her. she learned late in her pregnancy that the child she was carrying could not survive outside the womb. her doctors diagnosed her bane -- diagnosed her baby with at least nine anomalies, including her cranium being filled with no brain tissue. she also had other complicatio complications. doctors were concerned that if she went through with the pregnancy at that point, she ran the risk of never having another
baby. with tears in her eyes, she told me how she and her husband ago niced over the news -- ag agonid over the news and how she and her husband determined it was best to terminate that pregnancy. if this law had been the law back then, sadly, it would have jeopardized her health. well, 1 years late 18 years late back to see me p . i learned that that was her decision. soon after, she came pregnant again. this time she was thankful to give birth to a healthy baby boy. when she came to see me and told me about her boy nick, she said he had become a star football player and had a bright future ahead of him. if this bill had been the law of
the land, this woman in illinois and others like her would not have even had the choice to terminate a pregnancy, for her own health protection and for the opportunity to have another baby. that is the challenge we face when we try to spell out in law all of the medical possibiliti possibilities, limiting opportunities to be made -- decisions to be made by individuals under the most heartbreaking circumstances. this bill has other issues. the fact that the rape and incest exceptions, which have largely been built into the law to this point, would be changed dramatically by this law raises questions as well. there is a requirement, as i understand it, in this law that victims of incest would have had to report to a law enforcement agency that crime of incest before they would even be able to terminate a pregnancy under these circumstances. that is not even realistic.
to think that some young child in a household who has been exploited by another member of the family would think to go to a law enforcement agency and report that other member of the family before they could qualify to terminate a pregnancy in this circumstance, that just shows you the extremes that this bill goes to. i hope that we will defeat this measure. i sincerely hope that the other republican presidential candidate who is going to try to shut down the government over the funding of planned parenthood later in the week does not prevail either. we need to move on to try to find issues, not divisive issues but issues that we can build a bipartisan consensus to make this a stronger country. we need to address the issues of funding our government. we need to accept the responsibilities to move forward in a bipartisan fashion. this bill does not do that. i yield the floor. mr. grassley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: before we vote on whether to proceed to h.r. h.r. 36, i want to respond to a
couple of arguments made by a democratic senator yesterday. first, that democratic senator quoted hal lawrence of the american congress of obstetricians and gynecologists for the proposition that a 20-week fetus is not viable. the american congress on obstetricians and gynecologists, the group that dr. lawrence represents, has long opposed this legislation. according to the senator that i'm confronting on this issue, dr. lawrence said on may the 13th, 2015 -- and i want to quote that senator -- "in no way, shape, or form does a 20-week -- is a 20-week fetus viable. there is no evidence anywhere of a 20-week fetus surviving, even with intensive medical care."
end of quote. imbut as explained by "the washington post" fact checker on may 26 this year, dr. lawrence's statement is simply incorrect when applied to h.r. 36. the bill uses a method of calculating fetal age that is based on the day that fertilization actually occurred much the legislation -- occurred. the legislation would protect the unborn beginning at 20 weeks after fertilization, which is the same 22 weeks of pregnancy, as known as 22 weeks gestational age. gestational age is a measure of calculating the unborn baby's age that relies on the date of the mother's last normal menstrual period. it is well-established that babies can survive at 22 weeks gestational age. as noted in "the washington
post," for example -- -- quote - "that babies can survive at 22 weeks gestational age has been known for 15 years." end of quote. perhaps dr. lawrence was confused about what h.r. 36 would accomplish. "the washington post" fact checker article sets the record straight. second, the senator i'm referring to said earlier that abortions past 22 weeks fetal age are extraordinarily rare. some jurisdictions with the most lax abortion policies don't even collect data on the stage of pregnancy when an abortion is performed. while other jurisdictions may have reporting requirements but not really enforcing those reporting requirements. because data on late-term abortions is not widely
available, it is hard to know what hard evidence really exists to support the claim. we do know that several hundred doctors and well over 200 facilities across the united states offer abortions after 20 weeks of fetal age. i ask unanimous consent to put "the washington post" article in the record at the end of my statement. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: i yield the floor. ms. collins: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i am opposed to late-term abortions and would support legislation to ban them, except in unusual circumstances. a carefully drawn short list of exceptions to apply in those
rare cases should have been included in this bill. regrettably, mr. president, the bill before us provides no exception for when the physical health of the mother is at risk of serious harm. the most glaring deficiency in this legislation. mr. president, let me give just three examples of devastating conditions that could threaten the physical health of a pregnant woman. an extremely serious condition triggered by pregnancy in some women is pre pre-clampsia, which tends to develop after the 20th week of pregnancy. this condition can lead to serious long-term health consequences for a woman,
including liver and kidney problems, vision disturbances, seizures, and strokes. another example would be a woman diagnosed with cancer who requires chemotherapy and radiation but cannot be treated while pregnant. a massive infection, such as severe sepsis, is yet another case of a grave ills h illness t could cause grievous harm to a woman and to her physical health. mr. president, almost every country in europe that limits late-term abortions allows for exceptions for the physical health of the mother. like these european countries, states such as alabama, arkansas, indiana, louisiana,
mississippi, and others that ban late-term abortions provide an exception for the health as well as the life of the woman. but the bill before us does not. i have advocated that we add language that would provide an exception when the woman is at serious risk of grievous injury to her physical health. mr. president, this is an appropriately high standard to me but one that would allow a woman to terminate her pregnancy when the alternative is serious harm to her physical health. urpdz thiurpd thisunder this bi, a doctor who performs such an abortion after 20 weeks to prevent grievous physical injury
to the pregnant woman would be subject to criminal penalties of up to five years in prison. do we really want to make a criminal out of a physician who is trying to prevent a woman with preeclampsia from suffering damage to her kidneys or liver or having a stroke or seizures? do we want the threat of prison for a doctor who knows that his pregnant patient needs chemotherapy or radiation treatments? if a woman has the terrible misfortune to have a serious infection of the amiotic fluid that threatens her physical health and her ability to have
children in the future, do we want her doctor to be unable to perform an abortion because he faces the prospect of years in prison if he terminates her pregnancy? mr. president, the way that the rape and incest exceptions to this bill are drafted is also problematic. i do not question the good motives of the sponsors of this bill, as i share their goal of prohibiting late-term abortions. my point, however, is that all of these language problems could have been solved, and then we might well be able to enact a law that would accomplish the
goal of ending late-term abortions, except in those unusual cases where an exception is warranted. therefore, mr. president, i shall cast my vote in opposition to this well-meaning but flawed bill. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. scott: mr. president, i am a proud pro-life senator and i stand on the floor of the senate with a pit in my stomach, which comes from over the past 40 years over 50 million americans have not had the chaiens to have their feet on the soil of our
country. that is why i'm thankful for the opportunity that we have this week here in the united states senate, and opportunity to celebrate life and to protect life, god's most amazing gift of all. i am proud to join my colleague and the senior senator from my state, lindsey graham, in introducing this version of the pain-capable legislation in the united states senate. and the studies are very, very clear that this legislation can save more than 18,000 lives each and every year. that's right, 18,000 lives each and every year. we aren't talking about anything other than the results of sound science. and because of that sound science, we know that at
approximately five months babies can feel pain. we know that if a baby were to need prenatal surgery at that age, they would be given anesthesia. why? because that little life, that little life feels pain. yesterday, mr. president, senator blunt gave name after name after name of babies born around five months who have gone on to live healthy and full lives. this, mr. president, is not about pro-choice or pro-life. it is simply about protecting ten fingers, ten toes, and one beating heart.
and bringing the amazing gift of life. and in our world, out of nearly 200 nations, only seven allow abortions on demand after 20 weeks. only seven out of 200 nations, mr. president. who's among the seven nations? china, north korea, vietnam, and the united states. really? and so, while i may stand here today, mr. president, with a gnawing in my stomach, i also stand with hope, hope that we can take a massive step forward in protecting life. 18,000 lives a year, by passing
this important legislation. america is truly a great nation. and so let's improve our reputation and not lower our expectations. because as john winthrop said nearly 400 years ago, we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us. thank you, mr. president. mr. scott: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. scott: i ask consent that all time spent in a quorum call before the 11:00 vote be equally charged to each side. the presiding officer: without