Rep. Steve Chabot
Chairman, Subcommittee on the Constitution
H.R. 760, The “Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 2003"
We have convened this afternoon to markup H.R. 760, the “Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.”
On February 13, on behalf of over 100 original co-sponsors, I introduced H.R. 760, the “Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003” which will ban the dangerous and inhumane procedure during which a physician delivers an unborn child’s body until only the head remains inside the womb, punctures the back of the child’s skull with a sharp instrument, and sucks the child’s brains out before completing delivery of the dead infant. An abortionist who violates this ban would be subject to fines or a maximum of two years imprisonment, or both. H.R. 760 also establishes a civil cause of action for damages against an abortionist who violates the ban and includes an exception for those situations in which a partial-birth abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother. On March 13, 2003, the Senate approved S. 3, which is virtually identical to H.R. 760, by a 64 to 33 vote.
A moral, medical, and ethical consensus exists that partial-birth abortion is an inhumane procedure that is never medically necessary and should be prohibited. Contrary to the claims of those who proclaim the medical necessity of this barbaric procedure, partial-birth abortion is, in fact, a dangerous medical procedure that can pose serious risks to the long-term health of women.
To address the concerns raised by the majority opinion of the United States Supreme Court in Stenberg v. Carhart, H.R. 760 differs from previously approved partial-birth abortion bans in two areas. First, H.R. 760 contains a new, more precise, definition of the prohibited procedure to address the Court’s concerns that Nebraska’s definition of the prohibited procedure might be interpreted to encompass a more commonly performed late second trimester abortion procedure.
Second, H.R. 760 contains Congress’s extensive factual findings that, based upon extensive medical evidence compiled during congressional hearings, a partial-birth abortion is dangerous to women and is never necessary to preserve the health of a woman. Under well-settled Supreme Court jurisprudence, the United States Congress is not bound to accept the same factual findings that the Supreme Court was bound to accept in Stenberg under the “clearly erroneous” standard. Rather, the United States Congress is entitled to reach its own factual findings – findings that the Supreme Court consistently relies upon and accords great deference – and to enact legislation based upon these findings so long as it seeks to pursue a legitimate interest that is within the scope of the Constitution, and draws reasonable inferences based upon substantial evidence.
Earlier this afternoon, the Subcommittee received additional testimony indicating that there is never any situation in which a partial-birth abortion is medically necessary. I urge my colleagues to approve H.R. 760 so that we can finally ban this gruesome and inhumane, rogue procedure.