(Senate - January 29, 2018)

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[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 19 (Monday, January 29, 2018)]
[Pages S546-S548]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                           EXECUTIVE SESSION


                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the nomination.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read the nomination of David 
Ryan Stras, of Minnesota, to be United States Circuit Judge for the 
Eighth Circuit.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Utah.

               Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Bill

  Mr. LEE. Mr. President, the United States is just one of seven 
countries in the entire world that currently allow elective abortions 
after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and we are not in good company on that 
list. Of the other six countries that allow elective abortions at that 
very late stage of the child's development, half of those countries 
have authoritarian governments--communist governments with horrible 
records when it comes to human rights.
  Yes, our abortion laws are as extreme and inhumane as the abortion 
laws in Vietnam, China, and North Korea. It pains me--and it should 
pain all Americans--that the United States lags so very far behind the 
rest of the world in protecting the unborn, protecting human beings, 
simply because they have yet to take their first breath.
  Twenty weeks is the fifth month of pregnancy. Think about what that 
means. At that stage, the unborn child is about 10 inches long from 
head to toe. He or she is roughly the size of a banana. A baby at this 
stage sleeps and wakes in the womb. She sucks her thumb, makes faces, 
and, in some cases, might even see light filtering in through the womb.
  By 20 weeks, if not before, science suggests that the baby can also 
feel pain. Each year in this country, more than 10,000 abortions occur 
after this point in the baby's development. Today, we have a chance to 
stop this grave injustice.
  Moments ago, this body voted on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child 
Protection Act, a bill that would prohibit abortions after the 20th 
week of pregnancy. This is a commonsense restriction that is supported 
by a majority of Americans. More than 6 in 10 Americans support a ban 
on abortion after 20 weeks, according to a Marist poll conducted 
earlier this month. Not only that, but a majority of Democrats--56 
percent--said they would support an abortion ban at 20 weeks. Yes, this 
bill does, in fact, have widespread support, and it would bring America 
back into the mainstream of nations.
  More importantly, this bill is just. It is humane. It is the right 
thing to do. It is the natural outcome of any question asked with a 
degree of moral probity: Is this right?
  The reason we signed up for this job is to fight for what is right. 
And it is wrong--self-evidently wrong--that our country allows 5-month-
old unborn babies to be killed. We, in this body, have a moral duty to 
protect those vulnerable human beings, but I have no illusions that 
this will be easy.
  We have to overcome the misinformation of the abortion industry. This 
is a powerful special interest group that wants to keep abortion legal 
right up to the moment of birth. The abortion industry is attacking 
this bill by denying that there is any evidence that unborn babies can 
feel pain at 20 weeks. The linchpin of its argument is a 2005 study 
that claimed unborn babies could not feel pain until the 30th week of 
pregnancy. What the abortion industry never mentions, of course, is 
that this study was written by individuals with significant and, I 
would add, undisclosed ties to the abortion industry itself.
  As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the study's lead author, 
who was not a doctor but a medical student, previously worked for 
NARAL. Another of the study's authors actually performed abortions as 
the medical director of an abortion clinic.
  How convenient that the abortion industry's denial of fetal pain 
rests on a study by its own employees. If I recall, the tobacco 
industry tried something similar when they denied that cigarettes cause 
cancer. As always, the antidote to misinformation is more information, 
and the antidote to bad science is good science.
  I have three studies that address the topic of fetal pain 
specifically. They were all published after the abortion industry's 
favorite study--the one they prefer to acknowledge to the exclusion of 
all others. Unlike that study--the one they prefer to the exclusion of 
all others--none of these studies are compromised by a conflict of 
  This one is by the International Association for the Study of Pain. 
It concludes: ``The available scientific evidence makes it possible, 
even probable, that fetal pain perception occurs well before late 
gestation.'' The study pinpoints fetal pain to the ``second trimester'' 
of pregnancy, ``well before the third trimester.''
  Here is another study by the American Association of Pharmaceutical 
Scientists. It concludes that ``the basis for pain perception appear[s] 
at about 20 to 22 weeks from conception.''
  Finally, here is a 2012 study published in the Journal of Maternal-
Fetal and Neonatal Medicine. This paper states that there is evidence 
that unborn children can feel pain beginning at 20 weeks. The authors 
note that at this stage, unborn children have pain receptors in their 
skin, recoil in response to sharp objects like needles, and release 
stress hormones when they are harmed.
  They conclude: ``We should suppose that the fetus can feel pain. . . 
. When the development of the fetus is equal to that of a premature 
  I could go on, but I think that is enough for now. The takeaway is 
this. The science at a minimum suggests that unborn children can feel 
pain around 20 weeks. It can feel the abortionists' instruments as they 
do their grisly work.
  These children feel until they cannot. That possibility alone--the 
mere possibility--should be chilling to us, and that possibility alone 
should have us rushing to ban abortion at 20 weeks. I implore my 
colleagues who didn't vote for this to reconsider and, the next time 
they have an opportunity to support it, to vote yes on the Pain-Capable 
Unborn Child Protection Act.
  A vote for this bill is a vote to protect some of the most vulnerable 
members of the human family. And yes, we are talking about members of 
the human family. The life form we are talking about is not a puppy; it 
is not some other form of animal. This is a human being we are talking 
about. This is something that instinctively calls out for us. We think 
about the needs of the most vulnerable among us, and we should be eager 
to protect them.
  Together, we can move our country's laws away from those of North 
Korea and China and toward our most fundamental belief that all human 
beings are created equal and that they have an unalienable right to 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Hampshire.
  Ms. HASSAN. Mr. President, I rise today to oppose dangerous 
legislation that would endanger the health of women by limiting their 
constitutional right to access a safe and legal abortion. We must 
recognize the capacity of every woman in our Nation to make her own 
healthcare decisions, control her own destiny, and ensure that all 
women have the full independence to do so.
  Unfortunately, throughout the last year, the Trump administration and 
Republicans in Congress have repeatedly tried to roll back access to 
care and undermine the health of women. We have seen bill after bill 
targeting women's healthcare by restricting access to abortion, 
increasing the costs of maternity care, and allowing insurers to treat 
giving birth as a preexisting condition.
  The Trump administration issued interim final rules, allowing 
employers to deny women access to the birth control coverage they need. 
My colleagues on the other side of the aisle have confirmed Trump 
administration officials and judges to the bench who are vehemently 
opposed to a woman's right to make her own reproductive health 
decisions. Republicans have been relentless in their attempts to defund 
Planned Parenthood, which is an essential source of care for women in 
New Hampshire and provides key services like birth control and cancer 
  Here we are, once again, with Republican leadership bringing a bill 
to the floor that attempts to marginalize women and take away their 
rights to make their own decisions. This bill

[[Page S547]]

would ban abortions after 20 weeks--an extremely rare procedure that is 
often the result of complex and difficult medical circumstances. The 
bill lacks adequate exceptions for survivors of rape or incest, and it 
gets in the way of a woman and the judgment of her doctor, threatening 
to jail physicians for providing patients the care they need.
  In fact, a group of medical and public health organizations have 
written to Congress, saying: This bill places healthcare providers in 
an untenable situation. When they are facing a complex, urgent medical 
situation they must think about an unjust law instead of about how to 
protect the health and safety of their patients.
  This bill is a direct challenge to the precedent set in Roe V. Wade. 
We are at a moment in our country when women are speaking out and 
fighting for basic dignity and respect at home, in the workplace, and 
in their daily lives. They also deserve that respect with regard to the 
most deeply personal health decisions they can make.
  Passing this legislation would send a message to women across the 
country that politicians in Washington do not believe that women have 
the capacity to make their own healthcare decisions--as if women don't 
understand or are unable to grapple with the physical, emotional, 
economic, and spiritual issues that are involved in deciding when or if 
to have a family or how to handle critical health challenges.
  Rather than marginalizing women, we should be doing everything we can 
to include them in the bipartisan work we need to do on priorities to 
move our Nation forward. Divisive and partisan bills like this one 
undermine women and undermine our strength as a country. I was proud to 
join many of my colleagues in voting against this bill, and I am glad 
that it has failed in the Senate today.
  I thank the Presiding Officer.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas.

                      Tribute to Mary Kay Thatcher

  Mr. MORAN. Mr. President, I want to take a moment this evening to 
congratulate one of the most effective advocates for American 
agriculture in our Nation's Capital.
  We are often helped by those who have lots of knowledge. In the 
coming days, Mary Kay Thatcher will be retiring from the American Farm 
Bureau, where she is widely recognized as one of the most knowledgeable 
experts on farm policy, conservation, crop insurance, ag data, and so 
many other issues that affect farmers and ranchers and rural America. 
Mary Kay represents the best of Washington, DC. She is smart, 
passionate, and authentic. Again, we often need help from those who 
have expertise to help us make the right decisions, and she is 
absolutely one of those people.
  A great thing about Mary Kay Thatcher is that she hasn't forgotten 
her rural roots. It is evidenced by her clear convictions and steadfast 
support for American farmers and ranchers. Too many people come to the 
beltway and they forget why they are here--but not Mary Kay. Throughout 
her career of more than 30 years, she has never lost sight of what 
ought to be the mission of each of ours--to use our positions, our 
talents, and our abilities to help others. For Mary Kay Thatcher, her 
career has been all about helping America's farmers and ranchers, 
standing up for the food and fiber producers of our Nation. Let me tell 
you that she is one of the best at it.
  Not only is Mary Kay one of the most articulate ag lobbyists I know, 
she is one of the most articulate people I know. Her ability to break 
down an issue and make it understandable for everyone--for Senators and 
our staffs, including those who don't have ag backgrounds--makes her 
one of the most effective advocates for agriculture. There are fewer 
and fewer people in the U.S. Senate and Congress who understand 
agriculture or who come from farming backgrounds, and that ability to 
connect with them is so important.
  I have always appreciated the advice and counsel that Mary Kay has 
provided me when working on the farm bill or other pieces of ag 
legislation. I have also always noticed and appreciated how much time 
she has spent in educating staff, including those in my office. I 
believe a big part of Mary Kay's legacy will be the generations of 
young people who will be better prepared to continue the fight for 
American agriculture because Mary Kay has taken the time and made the 
effort to mentor and to teach them.
  Her passion for agriculture comes naturally. She grew up on an Iowa 
farm and continues to own and manage that farm today, and that helps 
guide her work here in the Nation's Capital. She has worked at the 
American Farm Bureau for over 30 years, but in ag circles, it is not 
necessarily the number of years that people talk about but the number 
of farm bills. They refer to how many farm bills a person has survived. 
By my count, Mary Kay has been part of writing at least seven farm 
bills in addition to many other key pieces of ag legislation.
  I know I am adding my voice to lots of others who will talk about how 
great of a person she is and what an advocate she is, but I do want to 
add my accolades because they are so well-deserved.
  I thank Mary Kay Thatcher for all of her work on behalf of American 
agriculture, including the Kansas Farm Bureau and its members, and on 
behalf of all of agriculture in our State. Her efforts have benefited 
Kansas and improved our country. She will be missed at the American 
Farm Bureau, but I know she will find other ways to advocate for 
agriculture. I hope that for many years to come, we will remain friends 
and work together on behalf of American farmers and ranchers.
  Congratulations and best wishes. Thank you--said with great respect 
and with gratitude.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.

               Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Bill

  Mr. LANKFORD. Mr. President, there are a lot of important things the 
Senate is taking up right now. Obviously, there is the issue of 
immigration, the budget, and disaster relief. There are a lot of 
pertinent issues that need to be resolved. One of those things that was 
in the middle of the conversation came up today. It is part of a 
conversation that, quite frankly, doesn't come up often in this body, 
but this seemed like a reasonable piece to be able to come up. It came 
up to the Senate to open debate on it, and it failed to get the 60 
votes to support the beginning of what should be an easy conversation 
on a hard issue--this issue about children and life.
  In 1973, when Roe v. Wade passed, the Supreme Court at that time 
determined that for children that were viable--and that is the 
definition they left out there--there is a governmental interest in 
being able to engage with those children. Well, viability in 1973 was 
very different than what it is now, decades later. In 1973 viable was a 
much older child. Now that we know a lot more, a lot more children 
survive. Children who are born at 22 weeks of gestation have between a 
50-percent to 60-percent chance of survival now. That was not true in 
  The rest of the world has caught up with this technology, and their 
governments have acknowledged of this issue that a child who has 10 
fingers and 10 toes and a beating heart--they suck their thumb in the 
womb, they yawn, they stretch, they move--is a child.
  I understand there is wide argument about a child that is at 8 weeks 
of gestation, whom I believe is a child, but others look at it and say: 
It doesn't look like a child yet. But a child at 20, 22, 24 weeks of 
gestation even looks like a child when you look at the child in the 
ultrasound. It is hard to disagree, especially when children are born 
at that age prematurely and they survive, and many of us know kids that 
were born at 22 weeks. The bill that came up today on the Senate floor, 
which had bipartisan support and had a majority of support but not 60 
Senators' support to be able to discuss this, was a very simple, 
straightforward bill. It asked just one question: Will we as Americans 
continue to allow elective abortions when the child is viable?
  The Supreme Court said in 1973 that the government has a right to be 
able to step in and protect a viable child. There is no question that 
they are at that age of viability. There is no question, at that age of 
20 weeks, that science shows us they experience pain in the womb, and 
that if surgery happens for a child in utero like that, that child is 
actually given anesthetic to be

[[Page S548]]

able to calm their pain during that surgery because they have a 
developed nervous system and because they have a beating heart. This 
body refused to even take up the issue and debate it.
  There is no question that I am very passionate about the issue of 
life and about children, and that we should as a culture protect 
children. But this one confuses me--for this body, more than any other 
issue. There are only seven nations in the world that allow elective 
abortions after 20 weeks. There are only four nations in the world that 
allow elective abortions after 24 weeks. We are in that elite club. We 
are in the elite club with three other nations that allow elective 
abortions that late--Vietnam, North Korea, and China--the worst human 
rights violators in the world. There sits the United States in that 
very elite club.
  Why are we there? Because we can't even discuss the possibility that 
a child is a child, and anyone who has ever seen an ultrasound at 24 
weeks cannot deny that is a child, and if that child was delivered 
prematurely, they would survive and grow and develop into a person. The 
only difference between that child at 20 weeks and an adult now is 
  This issue will continue to come up, and it should because we as a 
culture should promote a culture of life and of honoring people--people 
at their most vulnerable moment. There is no more vulnerable a moment 
than that for that child. We have to get out of this club of elective 
abortions and the only group that allows it--North Korea, China, and 
Vietnam. When will we wake up to the fact that the entire rest of the 
world--all of Europe, all of Africa, all of Central America, all of 
South America, every one of those countries--sees that plain? A child 
is a child, and we need to be able to guard its life.
  So I am sad that today in a bipartisan vote with more than 50 votes 
to be able to get into it and pass it, we didn't have enough people 
even to want to discuss it and to be able to bring up the bill. We will 
bring it up again for the sake of those children and their futures. We 
will bring it up again, and we will keep bringing up the facts of the 
argument, not the emotion but the facts of the argument, and we will 
win people over.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.