“Being Pro-Life Means Starting with Love”

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Video of Senator Sasse's speech is available here or by clicking the image above.

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, an outspoken pro-life advocate and author of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, spoke on the Senate floor ahead of the vote on Schumer’s radical pro-abortion bill.

Full transcript below.

Mr. President, 

Abortion is a heavy issue. In this body we’re used to debating marginal tax rates and debating spending bills, but this issue is different. This debate cuts to the heart of who we are, what we owe each other, and what kind of society we want to preserve, and what kind of society we want to build. The moral weight of this debate is heavy.

Social media, of course, makes it worse, makes it ugly. Makes it stupid. There's too little grace, there's not enough compassion. Honesty and genuine good-faith disagreements are really hard to come by.

To talk about abortion, well, we need to actually listen to each other, and we need to try to understand the best arguments of the other side and take those arguments seriously.

For Democrats, debating well has to start with recognizing that most Americans believe that unborn lives deserve to be protected at some point during a pregnancy. It is deeply human, and deeply compassionate to recognize the humanity of an unborn life. Scientific advances like ultrasounds give us a glimpse into the lives of the unborn. First in black and white, and now in 3D, and it's going to be clearer and clearer over time what that little baby is. Any honest conversation about abortion must grapple with the fact that every abortion begins with two lives, and destroys one of them. It's deeply wrong to ask Americans to participate in an act that they know takes an innocent life.

For Republicans to debate well, we need to be willing to be honest about the fact that for some women, pregnancy can be frightening and painful. Many situations are not ideal situations. Pregnancy changes a woman's life in a way that is absolutely unique in human experience. There is no equivalent to pregnancy. There is no example we can compare it to. That's why the pro-life cause is not, and cannot ever, primarily be about legislation or about policy, as important as those can be. The pro-life cause must start with active compassion for moms and babies, and especially women whose first thought upon learning that they were pregnant was “I can't do this.”

To the pro-life movement, I want to recognize your patience and your perseverance over decades. We should commend the ethic of love, persuasion, and prudence that has brought us to the place we're at today.

Pro-lifers show up for women, and for babies, every single day. I see it all over Nebraska, and I know that it's true across all 50 states. Pro-lifers and especially pro-life women, support women through pregnancy care centers. They work in local communities to build support networks. They're persuading their neighbors and growing a movement that supports life. We don't have the massive war chests, the army of lawyers, and the fancy PR shops that Planned Parenthood does, but what we do have is truth and love.

Thousands of pregnancy care centers provide women and their babies with free help, lots of free help. The volunteers who show up every day to help these women obviously don't do it for money, they do it out of love. Thousands of pro-life families adopt kids every year, and their hearts overflow with love as they welcome a new child into their family. That's the core meaning of the pro-life movement. It's not about legislation first, or about legislation second, or about legislation third.

Advocates for abortion on demand are doing a lot of fear mongering. We've heard some bizarre speeches on the floor in the last couple of days that are so disconnected from the reality of the text of the legislation that's before us. So much of what they're pushing is wildly out of touch with the public, and wildly out of touch with modern science. We already know that America's abortion laws are far, far more permissive than Europe's, and that on this subject, our laws have a lot more in common with the human rights abusers China and North Korea, than with anything in French law. 

The legislation before us today would make our laws even more extreme. Depending on how you count, we have the fourth to seven most extreme pro-abortion laws of any of the 200 nations on earth, and the legislation before the Senate today would make the US position even more extreme. 

There was a time when the Democratic Party talked about abortion as ‘safe, legal, and rare.’ Safe, legal, and rare. Not anymore. This legislation is not from your mom's Democratic Party.

In recent years, we've taken votes on my legislation, the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. It's a pretty simple, straightforward bill that aims to protect babies who survive botched abortions. There are no restrictions on abortion access in my bill, just a simple requirement that if a baby is born alive in an abortion clinic, she must receive the same level of care she would have received had she been born in the hospital. That's it. Yet Senator Schumer, and the abortion lobby, have filibustered this legislation over and over. It is so weird. 

So here we are today. The abortion industry's lobbyists have bullied leader Schumer and all but one courageous Democratic senator - my friend Joe Manchin - into an extreme position that doesn't reflect even the majority opinion in the Democratic party today, let alone the majority position among Americans. 

This bill today is ugly, winner takes all politics. It is full of aggressive, pro-abortion provisions. Let's consider just a few:

  • One, it would formally create a national right to abortion up until the moment of birth in all 50 states, and it would undo even state-based partial birth abortion bans.
  • Two, today's legislation would prohibit states from requiring parental consent to perform abortions on a child.
  • Three, it would prohibit states from passing any laws to ban sex selective abortions. It would ban any laws that states would have to try to prevent sex selection abortions.
  • It would create a right for non-doctors to perform abortions, putting women at severe risk of complications and botched procedures.
  • And it would remove conscience protections that keep Americans from being forced to perform or fund abortions if they have moral objections. Think about that. It would force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions. That's new. That's gross.

Where's the tolerance? Where's the compassion? Where's the humanity? Where's the attempt to understand that the majority of Americans want there to be prohibitions on abortions at some point in the pregnancy?

Americans don't want the kind of radicalism we see in this bill before us today. In recent polling, 65 percent of Americans say they support banning abortion in the second trimester, and 80 percent of Americans support banning abortion in the third trimester. Why? Well, one of the reasons is because they've seen a lot of images of what a baby looks like in utero in the second and third trimester. So just to reiterate, contrary to the last, I guess, a couple speeches ago, the last speech on this topic on the floor, 80 percent of Americans want to see abortion banned in the third trimester. It's hard to get 80 percent of Americans to agree on anything. And yet, 80 percent agree that third trimester abortions, the kind of thing that this bill wants to make sure is explicitly championed. States could not prevent and prohibit third trimester abortions. That's what this bill is about.

This bill is incredibly extreme. There is no moderation in this bill – just brutal indifference hiding behind euphemisms. Fortunately, it won't pass.

Unfortunately, our debate about it isn't very honest here. 

Fortunately, the pro-abortion lobby isn't winning. Majority Leader Schumer will earn kudos from Planned Parenthood for this show-vote today, but he's not going to convince anyone.

As we look beyond today's gross vote, as we look to the future, our focus should be on continuing to grow the power of the pro-life coalition in this country. We can and we must build support across the country for an ethic that protects life. I want to lock arms with pro-life Democrats, and work to build a culture of life. If we can pair certain pro-life laws with increased spending on prenatal care, and safety nets for struggling moms, count me in. I'm for that kind of big new coalition. Let's do it.

This movement is about hearts and minds. We've got to have difficult conversations in love. And we've got to reject the kind of extremism that Senator Schumer is putting on the floor today, pursuing this bill. We've got to focus our work on our local communities, on changing our neighbors’ minds, on understanding each other and on setting an example by putting moms and babies first.

The answer after this bill fails today is to remember that love is stronger than power. And that's why life is going to win. Being pro-life means being pro-science, pro-mom, and pro-baby. It means starting with love, not with legislation. And happily, it definitely doesn't mean starting with the grotesque legislation that will be voted down this afternoon.

Thank you, Mr. President.