Editor’s note. These are the full remarks delivered on the floor of the Senate last night by freshman Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) Along with other pro-life Republican senators, he spoke in favor of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. If enacted, the bill would extend federal legal protection to babies who are born alive during an abortion.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) had asked the Senate for unanimous consent, but Senate Democrats, led by Patty Murray (D-WA), objected, stalling the bill for the time being. Sen. Hawley’s remarks can be seen here.
Mr. HAWLEY. Mr. President, I rise in support of S. 130, which I am proud to cosponsor. This legislation would ensure that healthcare providers treat babies who have been born alive, after failed abortion attempts, with the same care they would treat any other baby born at the same stage of pregnancy. I also thank the Senator from Nebraska for his leadership on this issue and for bringing this issue to the floor.
In one sense, it is very hard to imagine this legislation is even necessary in the United States of America. In the 21st century, when, every day, new, advanced technologies bring new revelations about the wonders of human life, it is hard to fathom the extremism of the politicians in New York and now in Virginia who would deny the protections of law to the most vulnerable members of our society—the innocent unborn—and allow them to be aborted, allow them to be killed right up to the moment of birth.
It is hard to comprehend statements like those of Ralph Northam’s, the Virginia Governor, who said that if he had his way, infants who survived abortion attempts would be delivered and kept “comfortable”—that is his word—while the doctors and the parents decided their fate.
Is this really what it has come to in the United States? Is this really the social vision of today’s Democratic Party? Frankly, I can’t imagine a vision less just or less consistent with the goodness and compassion of the American people. In another sense, perhaps we should not be so surprised. After all, the cruelty and extremism that has been advocated by a growing number of Democratic politicians made up the conventional wisdom for much of recorded history.
We often hail the ancient Greeks as the founders of democracy, but, of course, most of the Greeks believed that most humans were born to be slaves and that their lives were utterly worthless. Oh, they had a democracy, of course, but it was the democracy of the few ruling over the many. The Romans took the same view. They kept most of their subjects in chains. They infamously killed children they didn’t want and left them to be exposed on hillsides or in deserted places. The Romans had a republic, but citizenship was for the few. The strong ruled. Most lives, they thought, didn’t matter.
This has been the general rule of the ages. The Aztecs, the Mayans, the Incas all practiced child sacrifice. Archaeologists recently discovered a burial ground dated to the tomb of the empire in Peru where more than 140 children were dismembered in a ritual of sacrifice. So it has gone down through the years. The strong prey upon the weak. The few rule the many. Individual lives don’t count.
We here in the United States of America hold to a different conviction. Our Constitution was written and the whole edifice of American liberty depends on a very different belief, on a belief that is as simple as it is powerful—that every life matters. We believe and it is our pride to believe that every person has dignity and worth—worth that is not given to one by the strong or the rich, that does not come to one from the State or the city, that does not depend on place of birth or social status, but is one’s by right because of who one is—a human being created in the image of the living God.
That is our faith, and against the drift of history, it is a revolutionary creed. It is a creed that inspired the early Christians to rescue those infants the Romans left to die and to bring them up to be free. It led them to found hospitals and schools and, later, universities on the supposition that all people should be cared for, that all could learn, and that all could govern themselves. It is a creed that has brought down empires and raised up the forgotten. It is the faith of our Constitution and of our whole way of life. Yes, we have struggled to realize it in this Nation. We have struggled to make it real, and we have fallen short many times, but this struggle for this faith defines our history and binds us together as Americans, and this faith is again at issue in our time.
I know some are tempted, when they see this rising tide of barbarism and cruelty, to feel despair, but I do not. I think of the words of Lincoln, who spoke of the “unfinished work” of this Nation, and I take courage that all of these years later, we are a revolutionary nation still.
So we must press forward in this generation for our revolutionary faith. Let us not go back to the darkness and cruelty of the past. Let us not go back to the arbitrary rule of the powerful and the few. Let us affirm again our founding belief in the equal worth and equal dignity of all.
As we do, we will do our part for liberty and justice in our day.