Issues of the Day
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Mr. KING of Iowa. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the privilege and the honor to address you here on the floor of the United States House of Representatives, and I come to the floor today to bring up a list of subjects that I think should be deliberated upon here in the House Chamber.
The first one that is on my mind is the moral calling that we have to step in to save the lives of the most innocent among us. And as I watched some of the discussion that took place here on the floor today, and I look over at the people that were a part of the privileged motion, as I reflect upon however strong they are in their verbal support for the Catholic Church, I didn't see one of them over there that actually will defend innocent, unborn human life. And we have tested it time after time here on the floor of the House of Representatives.
So the central principle of the Catholic Church, and many other Christian faiths, I will add, is to protect innocent, unborn human life, to oppose abortion-on-demand, and to respect the values that once a child is conceived, once fertilization takes place, we have a unique combination of DNA that is never matched again in history; and that unique combination of DNA is created in God's image, and I believe that he puts a soul in that little baby from that moment.
And as that little baby starts to grow in its mother's womb, we have a child that is a gift to the world and a gift here to America; a gift to that child's parents, grandparents, family, neighbors, community; a gift to our country.
Yet there is a policy here that allows for the Supreme Court to step in and intervene with the will of the people and establish what they seem to believe is a right to decide who lives and who dies and under what terms that might be.
In 1973, January 22 of 1973, two decisions came down from the United States Supreme Court. One was Roe v. Wade, which most everyone seems to know and understand; and that Roe v. Wade decision essentially was that they believe that the child wouldn't be protected until after the first trimester. Trimesters were part of the dialogue in Roe v. Wade.
Doe v. Bolton was the companion case; and in that companion case of Doe v. Bolton that was decided on the same day, it essentially said, except for all of these other things: the life or health of the mother, the familial relationship of the mother, the economic condition of the mother, of course the physical health of the mother. The list went on.
But it was so broad that it really said this: that Roe v. Wade says you can have abortion on demand after the first trimester. Doe v. Bolton said you can have abortion on demand for any reason or essentially no rational reason whatsoever.
And that stayed in place from 1973 until 1992, when the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision came down.
It is interesting that the son of Democrat Governor of Pennsylvania-- former Governor of Pennsylvania, since passed away, God rest his pro- life soul--Bob Casey, who was denied the opportunity to speak before the Democratic National Convention because of his pro-life credentials, was the subject of the lawsuit from Planned Parenthood to Governor Casey of Pennsylvania.
Out of that decision came a majority opinion that ratcheted the abortion issue a little ways, and it said: Well, you can't abort them after there is a viability.
But that viability was indistinct, and it settled in somewhere around 24 or 25 weeks. So it had litigation around that. We have had legislation around that. But, meanwhile, abortion on demand pretty much walked its way across this country.
In the late part of the 1990s, we had legislation that passed that banned partial-birth abortion. It was a big debate here on the floor of the House of Representatives, that ghastly and ghoulish practice--and I won't describe it here on the floor out of sensitivity, Mr. Speaker, to ears that might not be able to absorb this--but it is ghastly and it is ghoulish, a partial-birth abortion.
Yet that practice was going on around this country. This Congress banned it in the House and in the Senate. Then it was litigated; and, let's see, as it was litigated, the Supreme Court ruled that partial- birth abortion was a legal act because the Congress had failed to define the act of partial-birth abortion precisely enough that it was a vague description as to what that act actually was. So they said that that burden couldn't be upon the abortionist to know what Congress actually meant. Therefore, the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.
They also added to it being indistinct that Congress had not established that it was never medically necessary to save the life of the mother.
So we went back to work here in this Congress, and I was part of that as a member of the Judiciary Committee. The chairman of the Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee at that time was Congressman Steve Chabot from Ohio, a very strong and principled pro- life Congressman to this day, and I hope the next chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and he is the central player in this, and I got to weigh in and maybe tweak the language a little bit, but we precisely defined the act of partial-birth abortion precisely enough.
We also held hearing after hearing that concluded that a partial- birth abortion was never necessary to save the life of a mother.
There were ghastly testimonies that came before the Judiciary Committee in that period of time, but we passed that legislation off the House, we passed it off the Senate, and it was litigated again. LeRoy Carhart was the lead abortionist who litigated this case. It was Gonzales v. Carhart, as I recall.
I went to Lincoln, Nebraska. It was heard in three circuits. The one in Lincoln, Nebraska, is the one I sat in on; and after a number of hours of listening to that case be heard before the court, I went out and did a press conference outside the Federal building because the judge had said that the two attorneys in the case, the opposing attorneys in the case, had done more due diligence than the United States Congress.
I knew what the due diligence was here. He did not. So I raised that issue: How do you do more due diligence than the United States Congress bringing in the wisdom of America and the American people and having public hearings and rolling that information out over and over again, and the due diligence of precisely parsing the language of the decision that went against life and for a ghastly and ghoulish abortion, and precisely defined that act so that it could no longer be argued that we didn't make it clear enough in our legislation?
And we made it very clear that it was never necessary to do a partial-birth abortion to save the life of the mother.
We established those principles; and once we established those principles, then I am there in Lincoln, Nebraska, to defend it. I could only speak to that court through the press. There wasn't a way for me to walk down and make a case before the judge, but I made the case to the press; and when he read the press clippings the next morning, apparently, is when he discovered this, he offered to recuse himself.
Well, I wish they had taken him up on that. But in any case, Judge Kopf found against life and for abortion, as did the other two circuits, and we had now lost at two or three circuits in the previous legislation, we lost before the Supreme Court, the ban on partial-birth abortion had been struck down, and we have lost in three circuits when we came back with the better language and the congressional findings that it is never necessary to do a partial-birth abortion to save the life of the mother.
We lost in all of these areas. So that is two or three circuits the first time around, and a Supreme Court the first time around, and three circuits the second time around on our way to the Supreme Court.
Now, who would think we would be successful before the Supreme Court the second time through with Gonzales v. Carhart?
And I would say that, looking back on history, we should have been able to expect that. I don't know what I expected, I just knew what my job was was to do all I could do to save the lives of the most innocent among us.
So the Supreme Court found in favor of life and against LeRoy Carhart and said that Congress had successfully and legally and constitutionally banned the ghastly and ghoulish act of partial-birth abortion.
That is the only case that I know of where we have gone back to the court after we had failed the first time on the life issue, tried again. So when we went back to the court, we gained ground; we didn't lose.
And if you track the court along the way, I think that you see that there has been an incremental increase in their support for the authority, the constitutional authority of Congress and the State legislatures, to ban abortion or to limit abortion. And we are sitting there today with a Supreme Court that might well be a 5-4 decision against the Heartbeat bill, H.R. 490; the Heartbeat bill that requires an abortionist who is contemplating committing an abortion to first check for a heartbeat, and if a heartbeat can be detected, the baby is protected. That is the standard that is within H.R. 490.
We don't make exceptions for rape or incest because I believe it is immoral to execute a baby for the sin and the crime of the father.
So we have a very clean, very precise, very well-worded--and it is not worded in anticipation of it going before this court, Mr. Speaker, but it is written in anticipation of going before the Court after the next appointment and confirmation to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch 2, I might say.
And even though this Court could be disposed to uphold Heartbeat, because their legal argument gets a little vague, they don't get to say a heartbeat is vague. We know if there is a beating heart, there is life. We know it is a human life. We know that an unborn baby with a beating heart has at least a 95 percent chance of experiencing a successful birth.
And some of those numbers go higher than that, not to 100 percent, but approach 100 percent. I use 95 percent because I am confident that that number does not overstate. It does not overstate the prospects for a child that has a heartbeat.
We know that a heartbeat designates life. We know that abortion stops a beating heart. And we know that, in the 14th Amendment, it requires that we protect life, liberty, and property, in that order, I might add, in a prioritized order.
And, Mr. Speaker, I take it all back to the Declaration of Independence when Thomas Jefferson penned the words that the protection for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, are the words that are in our Declaration. A little bit different than John Locke's life, liberty, and property.
But the life, liberty, and property is deeply entrenched within the literature that brought us up to the Declaration and the Constitution and is enshrined in the 14th Amendment.
So I assert that our Founders understood, and nearly a century later, with the 14th Amendment, the Framers of the 14th Amendment understood, that they were prioritized rights. They didn't get this wrong. They never put property, liberty, and life; or liberty, property, life; or any other combination that might be conceivable with the three rights that are protected.
In every case that I can find in literature anywhere, it is always life, liberty, and then it either says property or pursuit of happiness.
As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, pursuit of happiness was understood by our Founding Fathers to be rooted in the Greek word ``eudemonia.'' E-u-d-e-m-o-n-i-a is how it is spelled, and I believe exactly how it is also pronounced.
And what it means is, that is the Greek word for pursuit of happiness, which they understood to mean the development of the whole human being. The development of a person's physical body, to get to exercise and stay in shape, get in shape, stay in shape, become proficient athletically so that you can use your body for all of the things you might need to use it for.
And the second component of this is to develop one's self intellectually, because God gives you a brain, after all, and that raw material, that brain, is a gift to you. You have an obligation to develop your intellectual capacity. So that is your education, your training, your cognitive skills, develop them to the max.
So develop yourself physically, develop yourself intellectually, and then the third component is develop yourself spiritually to put together the composition of the whole human being. That pursuit of happiness is understood by the Greeks and identified by the Greek word ``eudemonia.''
That is what the Founding Fathers understood when Thomas Jefferson took the quill and wrote: ``Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness.'' Not a fun tailgate party, not putting your feet up and watching the ball game. Not a celebration among your family in that way. All those things are fine, but it is about developing the whole human being.
And even that, as important as it is to develop yourselves as a whole human being, the efforts and endeavors to do so could never step on the liberty of others; the liberty of others to have a speech, religion, assembly, the right to keep and bear arms, the rights to property. All of those things that are some of the liberties that are God-given liberties that are protected, they are protected even from someone else in their pursuit of happiness or their development of their own eudemonia, cannot take away someone else's freedom of speech, religion, right to assembly, freedom of the press, the right to keep and bear arms, the protection from unreasonable search and seizure, or the right to own property. All of those things are protected as God-given liberties in the Framers' documents, and particularly in the Declaration of Independence, and then they are additionally enshrined within the Constitution itself.
So pursue happiness, use your liberties to do that. None of those things are any good if you don't have life. Life is the paramount right; and in protection of life, especially the most vulnerable among us, innocent, unborn human life, and the protection of that life, no one can use their liberties to take someone else's life.
And no one can use their pursuit of happiness to take someone else's liberty or life. These are prioritized in that order: life is paramount, liberty comes second, and eudemonia--pursuit of happiness-- comes third.
That is the structure that was understood intellectually and intuitively by our Founding Fathers, by the Framers of our Constitution, and the drafters of our Declaration, and that is the framework that we must adhere to in this country if we are going to continue to enjoy God-given liberty in any of its forms over the long haul.
The sin that this Nation is committing with 60 million abortions-- these innocent little babies who are the future of our country, 60 million, and today we have what we call a full-employment economy. The unemployment rate is as low as it has been since 2001. And I am constantly hearing employers say: You need to get me a labor force.
Well, I remember 10 years ago the message was: You need to create jobs. The private sector creates jobs--not government, as a rule. But it was jobs 10 years ago. Today, it is: We have too many jobs and not enough workers.
Well, where are those workers? They are the aborted generations that we are missing today, the ghosts that sit between us when nearly a third of a generation is gone and 60 million are missing.
Not only 60 million are missing, but there is roughly another 60 million who were not born because their mothers were aborted. And when you do the back-of-the-envelope calculation on that, it falls to roughly 60 million more. So somewhere between 100 million and 120 million Americans are missing because Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, Planned Parenthood v. Casey--Planned Parenthood, that, itself, spends millions lobbying the United States Congress and State legislatures across this land, millions.
They are the number one abortion company--factory--in America, committing around 354,000 abortions a year of the right at 1 million abortions a year.
When I talk to people here on this floor, a gentlewoman from the other side of the aisle just spoke here some minutes ago, who said to me: Steve, why are you worried about abortion? We have got abortions down to under 1 million a year.
The peak was about 1.6 million abortions a year, so why am I worried about this?
They score the difference between the high watermark in abortions at 1.6 million and what appears to be a very stable, maybe low watermark of 1 million abortions a year. They think that somehow by messaging we have saved 600,000 babies every year is good because we are not aborting babies at the willy-nilly pace we were at the peak of abortions a couple, four decades ago.
I say instead, you don't get to keep score because there aren't as many babies being taken today by abortionists. You can only keep score by ending a ghastly, ghoulish, and immoral practice and protecting these innocent lives. These are innocent lives of all races. All of God's children, every one, created in His image.
And that unique piece of DNA that I mentioned at the beginning, Mr. Speaker, that will never be matched up again. Of all of the possible combinations, it is beyond our imagination to think how that unique person could become matched up in another generation. There are 7 billion people on this planet, and what are the distinctions between us?
Just think, how many times have you heard a voice from another room and recognized that voice because it is unique. You know who it is. It has to be somebody usually close to you or somebody you have heard quite often.
I know that I have come up behind a vehicle out in my neighborhood and the vehicle had probably been traded two or three times since I had seen the driver, but I come up behind that pickup, I see the back of his head, and I can tell by the way he sits behind the steering wheel who he is--even if I haven't seen him in 20 years--because we are that unique. There are 7 billion faces here, and they are all unique.
Even though there is identical DNA in the case of identical twins, triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets, septuplets, sextuplets--I think I covered all that has ever existed--but whatever kind of combination of unique matches of DNA, they still look different enough. All of their mothers can tell them apart. And the older these identical twins get, the easier it is for all of the rest of us to tell them apart just by looking at their face, sometimes by listening to their voice.
Even the genetically identical are not identical. We can tell them apart because God has given us a unique visage, a face. And think what we do with it. I mean, can you imagine if you were going to create the world and invent all of the things that were put here in Genesis and then you put Adam and Eve down there on the planet, what kind of thought process that takes to give us a visage, a face, that is so unique that everybody can tell it apart from everybody else?
Think how hard it would be if we all wore a mask every day. We couldn't recognize each other. If we couldn't recognize voices or faces, or if we couldn't read facial expressions, how hard would it be to go do business? How hard would it be to express a feeling, a sense? How hard would it be to say: ``I am happy with you''; ``I kind of wonder about you''; ``I have my doubts about you''; and ``I am angry at you.''
All of those things come out of our faces, and little kids, from babies on up, recognize facial expressions. They know a smile means joy; they know a frown might not be; and we listen to them and watch their faces. It is instinctive in them, because God gave us those abilities to be unique and to express ourselves, each with our own unique visage.
And that is what we are eliminating with abortion, somehow believing that it is a mass of tissue that doesn't have identifying characteristics, that doesn' have a potential--and we all know in our hearts better than that. That is why I wrote the Heartbeat bill, because it does touch to our hearts, and we know what the sound of that beating heart is.
In my iPhone here, Mr. Speaker, I have a series of different little babies with beating hearts, and I can turn on that audio and listen to the beating heart of my little granddaughter that is due to be born in the latter part of July of this year. The baby is 26 weeks and 2 days along, today, as we speak, and the last heartbeat pulse I got was 161 beats per minute. I also have, of course, the ultrasound pictures in here of that little miracle that is waiting to burst forth and breathe free air here in America.
And I am far from alone. There are millions of Americans that experience the same thing.
I have what is now a former district representative that worked for me for a decade, and there framed in his office--a picture about this big--framed was the first picture of their firstborn son, firstborn child, and his name is Joseph Dean Anderson, and the picture is of his ultrasound.
The picture was there well before he was born, and they bonded with him from the beginning because they could see the facial expressions. They could watch him move. They could hear his beating heart. And today, that little guy is about 9 years old, a handsome, towheaded little boy that loves God and will be a fine American citizen.
We have an obligation to protect those lives, Mr. Speaker. This Congress has, I believe, the votes within it to protect those lives, but not the will, at this point, to move H.R. 490, the Heartbeat bill, to this floor--or even to committee, for that matter.
Now, I have gone to work on this and we brought the Heartbeat bill further and faster than any pro-life legislation of consequence since Roe v. Wade in 1973. As we entered into this Congress and we went to work on this--and my thanks to Janet Porter and Tom DeLay for their tremendous work that they have done--we built a whip team here in this Congress of about 12 to 15, and we fanned out throughout the Conference, and people brought their cards back in, and we ended up with 170 cosponsors on H.R. 490.
Well, I said, ``ended up.'' That is how many we had yesterday when the Sun came up. We added one more at the end of the day yesterday, and I am thankful that we are still making progress. And I expect there will be a trickling that will be added on to that, but it is a pretty good, long list of Republican Members that say: I will vote for it. I am just not quite ready to sign on the bill yet.
They have their own political reasons for that, but I believe the votes are here in this Congress to pass Heartbeat.
And if we pass Heartbeat, we will have taken the first step to saving the lives of nearly 1 million babies a year in America and starting to fill back up again that hole that is two or three generations old by now, 45 years old. Some would say that is two generations. It is probably closer--Thomas Jefferson declared a generation to be 19 years. Two, or a little more than two generations are missing in America. Some of those little girls who were aborted would have had babies by now, and there would have been roughly maybe another 60 million babies already born to that generation that is missing.
We have an obligation to defend their lives. We have an obligation to defend life. We have an obligation to restructure, again, the priorities of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
How can we sit here and say we are moral? How can we be indignant about a discretionary decision made by the Speaker of the House and not have a bit of a qualm about 60 million babies aborted because of the intransigence of the people who stood there just an hour ago to lecture the American people on a judgment call that they disagreed with form the President of the United States and, by the way, with the Speaker of the House.
That lack of a moral position over on that side of the aisle is why we still have Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, nearly 1 million abortions a year, two missing generations, and a population that would be 100 million to 120 million stronger had that Supreme Court made the decision that was constitutional, true, right, and just in all of its aspects in 1973.
Information emerged years later at the retirement of Justice Blackmun that Justice Kennedy was prepared to vote on the pro-life side in Planned Parenthood v. Casey and that there were decisions that were made that will always be within the bowels of the Supreme Court as to why that didn't happen. But the information out there says it was very close, that the decision really was on the side of life; and for an unexplained reason, it went the other way in 1992, and that gave Kennedy the opportunity to write the majority opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. That is why we came up with the viability nonstandard standard.
Now we have taken the Heartbeat bill up through the circuit court in North Dakota, and the court struck it down, as we knew they would. It just should be common knowledge by anyone who is involved in this discussion that with the Supreme Court precedent decisions, and especially precedent decisions that are as well-known and have extended as long as they have with Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Doe v. Bolton and Roe v. Wade, that with those precedent cases, no lower Federal court is going to attempt to defy the United States Supreme Court.
So any pro-life legislation that challenges existing Supreme Court precedent, which we must do if we are going to ever reduce the nearly 1 million abortions a year down to far fewer--by, say, 95 percent--will always lose at the lower court. At every level in the Federal court, we will lose, because those lower courts will not challenge the United States Supreme Court, Mr. Speaker.
That means we have to go back through this motion that we had again, go back through the exercise we had again that three circuits heard the ban on partial-birth abortions. Three circuits struck it down, even though we had rewritten the legislation to conform with the Supreme Court decision because they were not about to tell the United States Supreme Court that the inferior courts are superior to the Supreme Court. So we accept that.
I don't want to hear an argument from pro-life organizations that say: Well, the case is already settled. We tried Heartbeat before the circuit when it was passed in North Dakota, and the circuit struck down the North Dakota law, so we are defeated.
Really, that is not a defeat. When you know you have to accept that defeat in order to qualify to get to the Supreme Court, that is not a defeat. That is a process that you accept at the onset.
I accept that process at the onset to go forward through the lower courts to get to the Supreme Court, but the challenge isn't so much that, right now. The immediate challenge is this:
There are four windows that we have to get Heartbeat, H.R. 490, through if we are going to save the lives of these babies with the beating heart. The first window--by the way, these windows have to be opened in the right sequence. There are four windows, and I will name them: the House, the Senate, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court.
If the Supreme Court opens up and we lose pro-life majorities in the House or Senate, if the Supreme Court opens up, it isn't going to do us any good because we can't get there with the case--at least, out of this Congress we can't.
If we lose the Presidency, say we wait until the year 2020 and lose the Presidency and we end up with a pro-abortion President again, it isn't going to do us any good. Remember, President Obama said he didn't want to see his daughters punished with a baby.
If we end up with a pro-abortion President, again, it won't matter if there is a pro-life majority in the House or the Senate, because the President would veto it.
By the way, Mr. Speaker, we do have a pro-life majority in the Senate today. It is a bare pro-life majority. It is a 51-49 pro-life majority in the Senate. That was proven with the 20-week bill that did not defeat the cloture vote over there, but it had a bare majority of votes. So it is close, but a pro-life majority in the Senate.
We have a pro-life majority in the House of Representatives. That is clear here. I believe we have the votes to pass H.R. 490, the Heartbeat bill, off the floor.
Window number one, pro-life majority in the House. We have it. Let's move H.R. 490. Let's move it now.
The second window is the pro-life majority in the Senate. Questionable. But if they suspended their rules, they could pass Heartbeat in the Senate. If that happened, H.R. 490 then would go to the President. The President will sign H.R. 490, the Heartbeat bill. He will sign it, and one of the things that I guarantee is that Vice President Mike Pence, who has a terrifically good heart himself, would be standing next to the President of the United States at that time.
The President would sign that bill. Now we can count on it, at that point. That is window number three.
Window number one, pro-life majority in the House; window number two, pro-life majority in the Senate; window number three, a pro-life President that will sign the bill.
Window number four is the Supreme Court. We have to walk through the swamp and the quagmire of the lower courts to get there, but we would get there at that point. A Heartbeat bill passed by this Congress would get to the Supreme Court, and they would have a very difficult time refusing to grant cert and they would hear the case, I believe, and it would be a landmark case.
We would be in a position to see Planned Parenthood v. Casey reversed, Doe v. Bolton reversed, Roe v. Wade reversed, and to see life respected in America again, as it was before 1973. That is the path we need to follow.
What is obstructing this path, Mr. Speaker?
I know that you are asking that yourself, but for me, I am prepared to answer the question that you are thinking.
There seems to be a perhaps longstanding rule, one that was probably continued by Speaker Boehner or created by him. It seems that it goes back further than the current leadership in the House, but I have talked to each one of the top three Republican leaders in the House and each have told me: We won't bring pro-life legislation to the floor of the House unless it is supported by the top three pro-life organizations in the country, that being Family Research Council, Tony Perkins; Susan B. Anthony List, Marjorie Dannenfelser.
Both of those people are good friends and powerful, committed pro- life workers. I have great respect for them and all of their organizations they have put together, and many others. By the way, there are 170 cosponsors on Heartbeat, plus 162 pro-life organizations or national leaders that are cosponsors on this. So I have named the two of the three, what some have expressed as the holy trinity of pro- life, so to speak.
The other is the National Right to Life, NRLC. @NRLC would be their Twitter handle. They say: We do not oppose Heartbeat. I say they do not support Heartbeat. They say they don't have veto power, but the Speaker, the majority leader, and the whip say they do. But the Speaker's spokesman said: No, there isn't any such rule. Well, it is being applied.
National Right to Life, when I say to them it is time to lead, follow, or get out of the way, they say: Well, we do not oppose and we don't have that kind of power.
My answer to that is: Then pick up the phone, call the Speaker, and tell Speaker Ryan you don't want to have that veto power; remove yourself from this. And I said specifically: Lead, follow, or get out of the way.
It is probably too late to lead for them. It is probably not too late for them to follow--I hope they do--but at a minimum, get out of the way. Pick up the phone, call the Speaker, tell the public that you don't want to have veto power over Heartbeat, that you want to get out of the way.
If the Speaker wants to pick another organization, let him do that. That would be fine with me. There are plenty of good organizations out there.
Meanwhile, National Right to Life says to me: Why are you dividing the pro-life community? We can't be pitting ourselves against each other. We will never accomplish anything if we fight among ourselves.
My answer back to that is, Mr. Speaker: Accusing me of dividing?
One hundred seventy Members of the House of Representatives say: I want Heartbeat to the floor for a vote. There are a whole bunch of others who want to vote for it that aren't yet ready to sign on.
The will of we the people is reflected in the votes in this republican form of government which is guaranteed to us in the United States Constitution. It is not what anybody says out here that controls what goes on in here. It influences, but it doesn't control.
We have an obligation, every one of us. All 435 of us owe our constituents our best effort and our best judgment. That best effort and judgment doesn't mean that we let unelected, outside organizations dictate against the will of the majority here in the House of Representatives. But that is what is going on by this rule that hangs up there in the Speaker's office that, unless National Right to Life comes onboard, the pro-life legislation is not coming to the floor of the House of Representatives.
I do not think that that is a defensible position. It is not defensible for National Right to Life, whose mission statement says they protect life from the beginning of life until natural death. If you look a little further on their website--because I wanted to know the technicalities--when they believe life begins, posted on their website: at the moment of fertilization.
I agree with them completely, with their mission statement, that we should protect life from the moment of fertilization until natural death, because human life is sacred in all of its forms. It begins at the moment of fertilization. It begins at the moment of conception.
In fact, former Governor Bob Casey, whom I spoke of earlier in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, said years ago--I clipped it out and put it on my bulletin board--before we had electronics, everything had to be saved; you couldn't go search on the internet--pre-internet, Governor Bob Casey said: Human life cannot be measured. It is the measure itself against which all other things are weighed.
Think of that. What is a life worth?
It can't be quantified because it is the measure.
When the Frenchmen created the metric system, they did a calculation of the distance either around the Earth or pole to pole--who knows if it is right or not--and they divided it down into increments and came up with the meter. Well, the meter is a standard for distance of measure.
How long is a meter?
Well, it is whatever the distance is that is identical to the platinum strap, I will call it, the platinum meter stick that is stored at standard temperature and pressure so that it doesn't expand or contract and it is always a standard length. They created it in kind of an odd fashion, but they established it as the measure.
That measure, that platinum stick at standard pressure and temperature that is a meter is the distance against which all other distances are measured and made within the metric system.
Well, that gives you an idea of what human life is. Human life is sacred in all of its forms. It is the measure itself against which we measure every other value that we have.
So how can we say that this life is not worth it when it is sacred and it is the measure?
We are here with the National Right to Life resisting--and I use that word as an informed word, not just a random one off the shelf-- resisting the movement of Heartbeat, because they believe that if we challenge the Supreme Court, then Kennedy would be--and I will use these words--Justice Kennedy, because I do respect him--using their words, would be forced to vote against Heartbeat and would be in a position to assign Justice Ginsburg to write the majority opinion, in which case she would likely take away all things that we have gained.
I say: What? What do we have to lose? What could we possibly lose?
All we know is this: 45 years of incrementalism has piled up 60 million dead babies. And we are afraid to challenge the Supreme Court, when every time we knock on their door, we have gained something rather than lost something?
Furthermore, society is moving. Society is moving in the direction of life, because we see the ultrasounds. We know.
I will say, Mr. Speaker, I always knew. I knew when I picked up my first little baby, little David King, on March 24, 1976, and I looked at him, that little miracle. There was an aura about him. I was so amazed at the miracle of that child, you could have convinced me that he was the second coming of Jesus Christ himself, that aura about him.
I was stunned. I was so drawn to him, drawn to that miracle. I had to go to work later on that day, and I was sitting there working and I was thinking: Could anybody take that little baby's life now, now that he is these few hours old? Could they take his life when he is an hour old? Could they take his life at the moment he was born when he burst forth into the delivery room and began to cry and gurgle and scream and experience the harshness of birth, which has got to be a stunning thing--I am kind of glad, maybe, I don't remember that myself--but I remember his. An absolute miracle.
If they couldn't take his life the minute after he was born, why could they take it the minute before he was born or the hour or the day? Or could we take his life the week before he was born or the month or the trimester or another trimester?
You can follow that all the way back to conception. There is no distinct moment in development of an innocent little baby. Once the sperm fertilizes the egg and you have that unique combination of DNA, from there on, there is no distinct moment or instant.
I would like to protect those babies from that moment on, but we can't prove that fertilization, conception today, medically, in that instant, but we can with a heartbeat. Anyone that has heard a heartbeat knows that that beating heart tells us there is life. It speaks to our hearts and it speaks to our consciences.
It is impossible to be a moral human being and make an argument that taking the life of a little baby with a beating heart somehow is justifiable, when we know the potential for that little baby is as great as our own in almost every case.
Even if they are not, we have a case that looks like its going before the Supreme Court that bans the abortion of a baby that might be diagnosed with a disease, particularly--an affliction, I should call it--Down syndrome. In Indiana, now-Vice President Mike Pence signed the bill. These are some of the most lovable human beings on the planet. They have a heart in them that seems to have more love than the average heart in the rest of us. They have banned the abortion of Down syndrome babies in Indiana.
Now, what is curious is, the way that is left, maybe that is upheld in the Supreme Court, maybe it is not, but if it is upheld in the Supreme Court, it leaves the door open for abortion on demand for others who are not diagnosed.
So does it say that there will be babies of whom they will deny the diagnosis of the affliction of Down syndrome so they can be aborted?
These moral questions should not be answered at all by a civilized society. They should be answered by this: a unique human being created at the moment of conception. We can be certain of that when that baby has a beating heart. If we stop that beating heart, we are ending an innocent human life. That is the question. I would like to start it at the moment of conception, but from a beating heart, that is the time that we can prove it.
Now, everybody knows it. Everybody knows it because we have ultrasounds and the audio of that 161 beats a minute. That little granddaughter of mine that, Lord willing, we are expecting her arrival the last week or so in July, that strong, purposeful heart is beating at 161 beats a minute. We can't stop that life because it is inconvenient, because somebody is inconvenienced by a pregnancy.
Why is it that abortion came along shortly after the contraceptives became so available everywhere, all the time, to anybody?
I remember when birth control pills came in, about the mid-sixties. Shortly after that, here is abortion on demand in 1973. If ever there was contraception available on demand, they became available within the decade before Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.
Why did that happen? The least excuse possible was when contraceptives became the most available possible. That all happened almost simultaneously.
And by the way, it was my generation coming of age at the time that that happened, Mr. Speaker.
So I urge National Right to Life to lead, follow, or get out of the way. I would be awfully happy if you join in and follow, because we know this: there will be a turnover in the United States Supreme Court. We know that the President of the United States has pledged that he will make nominations to the Supreme Court off of the list of 21 that was approved by The Federalist Society, by The Heritage Foundation, and, if it matters, also by me.
The first appointment out of that list of 21 is Neil Gorsuch. I think we can be very optimistic about the decisions that he will bring down, from what I know of him and his history and the conversations I have had with the people who have known him for a lifetime. I am very, very impressed with Neil Gorsuch. I might have disagreed with him already on a case a week ago, but I am very impressed with him, with his juris prudence, and with the principles that he carries within him.
I would like to let the world know, Mr. Speaker, that when they interviewed the other candidates for Supreme Court, which I learned from White House counsel, they interviewed all 21 on The Federalist Society's list. And of those 21, they asked them all the same question, a whole series of questions, but they all got one same question, at least, and that was: If it is not to be you who would be nominated for the Supreme Court, who should it be? And of the other 20 who were interviewed, every one answered Neil Gorsuch. What a powerful endorsement of a man's juris prudence, of a man's character, of a man's support among his peers.
I say, Mr. Speaker, that I could easily find 20 Members among this Congress who would say those same things about me, but I would have to handpick them. Neil Gorsuch didn't handpick those 20. They were listed by The Federalist Society and supported by The Heritage Foundation. His peers, universally, said Neil Gorsuch is the best pick. ``If you can't pick me, Neil Gorsuch is the best pick,'' was their answer.
I would like to know what Neil Gorsuch said when he was asked that question. We may never know that, or perhaps that will be the next appointment to the Supreme Court.
But the rumors about Justice Kennedy retiring, not substantiated. They have been coming back a little more all along. We don't know what he might do, but we do know that time moves on. Turnovers do happen in the Supreme Court. They are eventually inevitable. When that happens, we need to be ready.
It won't do for us to sit on our hands in the House of Representatives, for the Senators to sit on their hands and to wait for a configuration of the Court to come around in such a way that we have great confidence that they will find in favor of life, no. Instead, we need to do our job; and our job is to move the Heartbeat bill, H.R. 490, off the floor of the House of Representatives and send it over to the Senate.
It will take some serious work to get that done over there at the Senate, Mr. Speaker, and I think we can get there. But if we are knocking on the door in the Senate, then the Senators who are running for office, and especially a good number of them who are, some say, vulnerable in conservative States, States that Donald Trump won--they have been getting a little more conservative the closer they get to their reelection, and we have got a shot.
We have got a shot to put together, maybe after this next election, the 60 votes necessary; and we have got a shot, also, at the Senate changing the rules so they are no longer handcuffed by the filibuster rule and the requirement of 60 votes for cloture in the Senate. We can't control that, the other side of us. We can influence it perhaps, but we can't control it.
We can control what we do here. That means we have to bring Heartbeat to the floor of the House of Representatives, and we need to get the votes on it to do it. We need to send it over to the Senate. And a way to do that now is for National Right to Life to pick up the phone, call the Speaker, and say: Mr. Speaker, take this cup from me; I don't want this responsibility. The guilt will be too heavy if there is an appointment to the Supreme Court and the Heartbeat bill hasn't gotten there because we wouldn't let it come to the floor of the House of Representatives.
That is the guilt they have to carry.
By the way, this configuration hasn't existed in 45 years, where we had the windows open of a pro-life majority in the House and in the Senate and a President who will sign it and a Supreme Court that we have confidence will find in favor of life. It hasn't existed in 45 years. So, if we wait for a Court to get lined up in a way that pleases us, we might well wind up with no way to open up one of the other three windows necessary to get it to the Court.
So why wouldn't we move the ball down the road as far as we can get it, get this thing out of the House of Representatives. Sit it on the desk of Mitch McConnell. If Mitch can't get that up this year before the elections in November, or even before the transition takes place in lame duck session, fine. We will start again next January. We will bring Heartbeat here again. We will send it to the Senate again, and the new Senators can deal with it.
And maybe they change the rule at that point so that a simple vote-- even a 50-50 tie with Mike Pence there resolves this thing, sends it to Donald Trump. Donald Trump signs it with Mike Pence standing by his side. We send it to a Court that, by then, perhaps, has a new Supreme Court Justice there who would support our Constitution, the rule of law, we the people, the will of the people, and defend the obligation which we have, which is an obligation to defend life first, liberty second, pursuit of happiness third, or, according to the 14th Amendment, property third--those priorities.
It is our obligation by Declaration of Independence, it is our obligation by Constitution, it is our obligation by the 14th Amendment, it is our obligation by every measure of humanity that I know of to protect life.
I'll get to this closer, here, before I yield to Mr. Carter.
I was listening to Father Jonathan Morris of New York on FOX News one morning. He was talking about how, when he is celebrating mass in his home church, when the mothers who bring their babies in, when the babies start to cry, they get up and carry the babies out of the church. And he said: I don't know why they would carry those babies out of the church. They think those crying babies annoy me for some reason. But we should always remember, those babies, those gurgling babies, those crying babies, are the only innocent voices in the entire church.
And these babies are the most innocent among us, except the unborn babies don't have a voice. They can't cry out to us from anywhere except from Heaven. And they do cry out to us from Heaven, and we do have an obligation to hear them and to ask for forgiveness for what we have done.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to conclude my part of this, at least for the moment, and am happy to yield to the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Carter). And I would note that the clock runs out at about 1:32, for the gentleman's information.
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