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Missouri General Assembly approved by an overwhelming margin. I have also introduced H.J. Res. 681, the Life Support Amendment, which is based on the wording of Professor John Noonan of the University of California. This language is similar to the wording introduced by Senator Burdick before the Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments. During the course of these hearings, I trust that these two Amendments and others friendly to the protection of life will receive careful and fair consideration.
In this our bicentennial year, America is at a crossroads. Decisions on many issues made today will shape the course of the next two hundred years. Let us not retreat from the protection of life. As Thomas Jefferson said, “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government."
I am also attaching for a part of the record the statements I placed in the Congressional Record when I introduced the above-mentioned Resolutions.
[From the Congressional Record, Sept. 20, 1975)
THE RIGHT TO LIFE (Mrs. Sullivan asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend her remarks.)
Mrs. Sullivan. Mr. Speaker, on January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court made it possible for any woman in the United States to obtain an abortion at any point in her pregnancy even up to term. Since that decision, over 1 million babies a year have been killed in the womb. Because the preponderance of medical evidence clearly indicates that human life does begin at conception-abortion is the killing of that life. Today, I, as a woman Representative, am introducing as a constitutional amendment the same resolution which the Missouri General Assembly approved by an overwhelming vote. I strongly feel that abortion on demand is not an advance of woman's rights ; on the contrary it is an exploitation of the very dignity of womanhood. Permissive abortion makes possible the ultimate degradation of women.
Some insinuate that the movement for women's rights includes unrestricted abortion, I do not believe that this truly represents the feeling of the women of my State or of the country. The growth of “feminists for life" groups attests to this belief.
Granted that we are confronted with many serious social problems in our society today, we must realize that wanton disregard of human life and the human rights of others cannot be recognized as a rational solution; rather it is a brutal and dehumanizing one.
When the black man was deprived of his "personhood" 100 years ago by the awful Dred Scott decision, the Congress of the United States restored honor to this great country of ours by passing the 14th amendment and thereby enabling the people to ratify it. I implore Congress to act decisively once again and on the eve of our Bicentennial to guarantee that "no person including the unborn, shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law."
[From the Congressional Record, Sept. 30, 1975]
THE RIGHT TO LIFE_WHEN DOES HUMAN LIFE BEGIN (Mrs. Sullivan asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute, to revise and extend her remarks and include extraneous matter.)
Mrs. Sullivan. Mr. Speaker, yesterday, I introduced an amendment asking that "personhood” be conferred to all human beings irrespective of age, health, function, or condition of dependency-including their unborn offspring at every stage of their biological development.
I pointed out my obligation to all the women in this country who feel that our current laws are an exploitation of the very dignity of womanhood.
Today, I further emphasize that this right to life is not a sectarian religious issue. It is not a Catholic-Protestant or Jewish issue. It is an issue of an unalienable human right; namely, life itself.
Hence the quest, “When does human life begin?" is appropos.
When does human life begin? Human life begins when the 23 chromosomes of ovum are united with the 23 chromosomes of the sperm. At this point of fertilization a new independent life comes into being. This is a scientific fact—the unborn child is alive because he has the characteristics of life; he can reproduce his own cells and develop them into a specific pattern of maturity and function. Genetic
studies indicate the genes are proper only to a human being. The only difference between a child before birth and after is that he has changed his method of feeding and obtaining oxygen.
Viability-ability to exist independently outside the womb so often alluded to in the Supreme Court decision could not possibly be construed as a determinant of humanity. Viability varies from year to year as medical science advances. It's a measure of the innate strength of the child and the sophistication of the external life support system available in only given situations. A child born prematurely in a large, well-equipped modern hospital has a greater chance of survival than the same child born in a small rural community.
All organ systems are functioning at 12 weeks of pregnancy; at 16 days the heart begins to beat. Microscopic examination substantiates the fact that life begins at conception-fertilization.
For those who argue that abortions can be performed safely and under sterile conditions now, we must pose the question: Safely for whom? Abortion is 100 percent fatal for the child. We also know that there are serious risks to the mother in the abortion procedure. These dangers are not always immediate. The fact that many complications occur at a late date does not effect the casuality of the complication. We also know that studies of women who had abortions indicated a greater risk of miscarriage in subsequent pregnancies due to cervical incompetence, greater danger of tubal pregnancy, perforation of the uterusexcessive bleeding—premature delivery, and mental problems.
However, the real question here is not the relative safety or the lack of it from abortion.
Granted that we acknowledge serious social problems such as the unwanted pregnancy, deformed children, unproductive older citizens—the real question is "Do we as a nation accept killing as a solution to these problems, or are we not imaginative and humane enough to achieve more positive solutions? Adoption-better education of the retarded-useful occupations for senior citizens."
Socioeconomic conditions can not become a determinate of life and death in the United States. Very often we discover it is "cheaper to kill or terminate life than to sustain it." Dr. James D. Watson, the Nobel Prize Winner, does not wish a child to be declared alive until 3 days after birth so as to determine if it is defective. At least 12 States have euthanasia statutes pending in legislature, Where are we going in this country on this question of life? Government should protect life and try to provide a state in which life is worth living. Can we allow ourselves to become agents of destruction ?
Early in 1975 De Vries & Associates, Washington, D.C., conducted a national poll on the question of abortion. 75 percent-yes. 75 percent of the people favored a change in the current abortion laws of this country toward more restrictive laws. Twenty States have either memorialized Congress or requested a Constitutional Convention to stop abortion on demand.
Many aldermanic boards, municipalities and county councils throughout the Nation have taken exactly the same action. This is the grassroots of this country speaking to us as the legislative arm of our Government. This action is government by the people. The Congress of the United States must make it government for the people.
The amendment that I sponsored is a practical and workable amendment. It has passed by a tremendous majority both Houses of the Missouri Legislature, a body that is a pluralistic one, men and women from totally varied backgrounds.
The people of this country want action now. I am responding to that voice.
[From the Congressional Record, Oct. 1, 1975) A NEW APPROACH TO RESTORING CONSTITUTIONAL POWERS TO “PROTECT LIFE"
(Mrs. Sullivan asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute, to revise and extend her remarks and include extraneous matter.)
Mrs. Sullivan. Mr. Speaker, as Members of Congress, we are obligated to frequently make decisions which are both difficult and troublesome. At times it would be much easier and perhap politically more expedient to ignore such concerns. However, there are crucial issues which demand action. Although the House of Representatives as a whole has failed to address the Supreme Court decision of January 22, 1973, legalizing abortion on demand, the people of this country continue to denounce that decision. As legislators and representatives of the people, we can no longer remain outside of this controversy.
Today, I am introducing a constitutional amendment which protects life, including the unborn. Due to the legal expertise of Prof. John J. Noonan of the University of California, the wording of this amendment properly speaks to the concerns of many.
First. It is an amendment which is pro-life, empowering the law to protect life from its very beginning. The protection of the unborn is included in the Constitution.
Second. It is an amendment which negates the holdings of the Supreme Court in Roe against Wade and Doe against Bolton.
Third. It is an amendment which is pro-States' rights restoring to the States the power taken from them by the Supreme Court.
It is my belief that this amendment incorporating the testimony of John Noonan before the Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments merits the enthusiasm of all of those already committeed to the pro-life movement.
The American Citizens Concerned for Life has endorsed this amendment and hopefully many others will join their ranks.
This amendment is not a retreat from the so-called human life amendments which I also support. It is, however, a new approach which may be more acceptable to those of us who are undecided. It is my sincere hope that this measure can be a vehicle for advancing a concern of primary importance-the sanctity of life itself.
The following is an explanation of what the amndement does and does not accomplish :
AMENDMENT XXVIII The Congress within federal jurisdictions and the several States within their respective jurisdictions shall have power to protect life, including the unborn, at every stage of biological development irrespective of age, health, or condition of physical dependency.
WHAT THE AMENDMENT ACCOMPLISHES 1. The Amendment negates the holdings of the Supreme Court of the l'nited States in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton that the Constitution of the United States is violated by law which penalizes the killing of unborn life. Under the Amendment, Congress in all places particularly governed by federal law, and the States within their own borders, are empowered by the Constitution to protect life, born or unborn.
2. The Amendment negates the teaching of the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade that life in the womb, prior to viability, is no more than “a theory of life,” incapable of protection of law. Under the Amendment, Congress and the States within their respective jurisdictions may protect life from the beginning of new life.
3. The Amendment negates the teaching of the Supreme Court in Doe v. Bolton that the law must always prefer a physician's prescription for the well-being of a mother to the life itself of her child. Under the Amendment, the law may protect the child, although he or she is within the womb and physically dependent on the mother.
4. The Amendment negates the teaching of the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade that "capability of meaningful life" is a criterion by which the protectability of life is to be determined. The Amendment assures that federal or state legislation protecting the life of the aged, the mentally-afflicted, or the chronically ill cannot be declared unconstitutional by application of such a criterion. Under the Amendment, life may be protected irrespective of the health, physical or psychological, of the life being protected.
WHY THE AMENDMENT DOES NOT ATTEMPT MORE
1. The Amendment does not make abortion murder. In Anglo-American legal tradition, discrimination has always been made between the crime of murder and the crime of abortion. No good reason exists to end the traditional distinction.
2. The Amendment does not outlaw any particular acts of abortion. In the federal structure of the United States, it has been the responsibility of the States to design the protection of life within their borders, and the responsibility of Congress to protect life in federal areas. No good reason exists to alter the traditional allocation of responsibilities.
3. The Amendment does not mandate a particular or uniform degree, level, or kind of protection. A Constitution is not a criminal statute. If an Amendment is
to act at a Constitutional level, it is not the appropriate place to incorporate the details and qualifications of a specific criminal law.
4. The Amendment does not make contraception an act which Congress or the States may prohibit under the Amendment; It does not overturn Griswold v. Connecticut. Contraception is directed to the prevention of life. The Amendment authorizes the law to act from the beginning of new life.
THE ADVANTAGES OF THE AMENDMENT
The Amendment is modeled on the Sixteenth Amendment, overturning the decision 5. the Supreme Court in Pollock v. Farmers' Loan and Trust Company. The Amendment, therefore, conforms to an established pattern in which a deci. sion o* the Supreme Court is negated by Constitutional correction.
The Amendment is pro-life. Empowering the law to protect new life from the beginning, it creates the expectation that life will be protected.
The Amendment is pro States' Rights. Restoring to the States the power taken from them by the Supreme Court, it gives the state legislatures the opportunity to shape the protection of life.
The Amendment is pro-People. Returning to the People what was taken from them by the decision of the Supreme Court, it gives the People power to safeguard the lives of future generations.
The Amendment is general enough to have the breadth, dignity, and freedom of detail appropriate for the Constitution.
The Amendment is specific enough to restore the protectability of life within the womb.
The Amendment is moderate enough not to permit ad terrorem arguments by advocates of abortion who will try to stretch the language of any proposed Amendment to make it appear mischievous or monstrous.
The Amendment is strong enough to withstand interpretation by a judiciary likely to be initially unsympathetic to its purpose.
The Amendment is conservative enough to satisfy not only the defenders of life but the proponents of States' rights and the critics of judicial radicalism.
The Amendment is bold enough to win the enthusiasm of everyone dedicated to the elimination of the holdings and teachings of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.
STATEMENT OF JOSEPH P. VIGORITO, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM
THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA I am pleased to have this opportunity to express my views on the abortion issue which has been pending before Congress since the Supreme Court decision on January 22, 1973. I also wish to commend this Subcommittee for holding these hearings and I want to urge you, Mr. Chairman, to continue action in this area and to report out a bill which can be acted on by the full House of Representatives.
Mr. Chairman, on February 2, 1976, I co-sponsored H.J. Res. 790 with my colleague, James Oberstar, which proposes an amendment to the Constitution of the United States with respect to the right of life. This resolution provides that the word "person” shall apply to all human beings irrespective of age, health, function or condition of dependency, including their unborn offspring at every stage of their biological development.
I have always held the view that amending the Constitution is a very serious matter and should not be taken lightly. However, after observing the national trends since the Supreme Court decision of January, 1973, I believe that a Constitutional Amendment in regard to the abortion issue is warranted and badly needed.
I suggest to my colleagues that the Supreme Court decision has frightening implications. The Court has placed great emphasis on the term “viable" and "canable of meaningful life". I shudder to think of the possible extensions of this basic premise. Let me illustrate my concern with two examples. In May, 1973, Time magazine quoted a statement made by the Nohel Prize winner, Dr. James Watson, which appeared in an AMA publication : "If a child were not declared alive until three days after birth, then all parents could be allowed the choice only a few are given under the present system. The doctor could allow the child to die if the parents so choose and save a lot of misery and suffering." Earlier that same month, the John Hopkins magazine had this statement, "If the family and medical staff agree not to treat a child, assuming he is going to die any. way, then why not make sure he dies quickly and painlessly as possible."
Moreover, Mr. Chairman, how can anyone make a determination that on one day life is precious and that on the previous day it was not; that at one point the State had a compelling interest and at a previous point it did not. It seems incomprehensible to me that the Court could make a judgement in this area without tackling the question of when life actually begins. This, in fact, Is the issue.
In this regard, let me emphasize that at the moment of conception an entire and unique genetic code is contained in the embryo which will, without any doubt, be a human being as you and I are. Approximately around the third or fourth week after conception a heartbeat can be detected; and by the 45th day brain waves can be picked up. Mr. Chairman, as early as the 12th or 13th week, the baby has fingernails, can suck his thumb, and recoil from pain. At this point it may be appropriate to recommend to my colleagues an article which was written by Dr. Richard Selzer, a surgeon entitled “What I saw at the Abortion". It was inserted in the Congressional Record on page 8100 on January 19, 1976. It is a moving and well-written article which deserves this Subcommittee's attention.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, let me also say that I fully realize and comprehend the problems which can arise from unwanted pregnancies, such as embarrassment and great financial burden. However, the answer must never be the killing of life. In the past, our society has never been one which places a higher priority on convenience than it does on the value of human life. I feel that it is most important that we do not allow societal convenience to destroy the moral fiber of our nation. With this in mind, I urge your support for H.J. Res. 790.
STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES L. BUCKLEY, A U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE
OF NEW YORK
Mr. Chairman, little more than one year ago–March 6, 1974-I had the opportunity to address you and the members of the Subcommittee at the inauguration of hearings on proposed Constitutional amendments aimed at guaranteeing every American the right to life. At that time, I said :
"... there is no more important issue before the Senate and the nation than that which you now propose to examine .
"I have long felt-and my experience during the past year has redoubled my conviction—that such success as the case for permissive abortion has managed to acquire, requires that certain crucial facts be obscured from public view or ignored altogether. And although the proponents of abortion have used this tactic with measurable success in some places, I know that they will not be successful here. I believe I can speak for all opponents of permissive abortion in saying that we rest our case on the facts—the facts concerning what precisely it is that is done during an abortion; and the facts concerning what, or rather who, it is that is killed during an abortion. And I am confident that this subcommittee, peopled as it is with men of good will, will bring those facts to light ..."
Mr. Chairman, since I spoke those words a year ago, this subcommittee has held 11 days of hearings with testimony from 64 experts in the fields of science, ethics, law and medicine. Your pains-taking and, I am convinced, successful attempts to make sure that no important fact or theory or opinion has been omitted from these hearings have made them a model of fairness, objectivity and reasonableness. I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank you for what I believe to be an outstanding display of patience, understanding and legislative leadership in an extraordinarly difficult area.
The thorough and fair hearings conducted to date, plus another year of experience with the reality of abortion-on-demand, have served to dispell all the myths that have clouded the abortion debate and caused people to focus on the essential fact. We are dealing with the matter of the deliberate killing, for utilitarian porposes, of a distinct human life that is biologically distinguishable from other human life only in that it has not as yet been born. We are dealing, in other words, not with "a part of the mother's body”, but rather with a unique, genetically complete human being that until birth is sheltered and fed by the mother.
Given the indisputable reality of the fact that abortion involves the taking of a distinct human life, this places the focus on what is basically at issue: Will American society accept a new ethic that reduces human life from a supreme value to be granted full Constitutional protection from the moment of conception until death, or will it be downgraded to one of a number of values to be weighed in determining whether a particular life shall be terminated? This is something that the most honest advocates of permissive abortion have always understood.