Prepared Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Hearing on S. 1696, the Women’s’ Health Protection Act
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Four and a half years ago, a woman walked into an abortion clinic with the expectations that she would have her pregnancy terminated, and that she’d walk out of that clinic without major side effects. She was 41 years old and 19 weeks pregnant. She had three children and was a grandmother. She and her daughter entered the clinic, but she never made it out alive. Her name was Karnamaya Mongar. She was one of the many victims of Kermit Gosnell.
Kermit Gosnell operated a clinic in West Philadelphia for four decades. He made a living by performing abortions that no other doctor should ever do. The Grand Jury report that framed the case around Kermit Gosnell stated, “Gosnell’s approach was simple: keep volume high, expenses low – and break the law. That was his competitive edge.”
Also according to the Grand Jury report:
“Gosnell ran a baby charnel house. It smelled of cat urine. Furniture and blankets were stained with blood. Instruments were not sterilized, and medical equipment was broken. He provided same day service. Required counseling was ignored. The bigger the baby, the bigger the charge. Ultrasounds were forged so that the government would never know how old aborted babies truly were. Babies were born alive, killed after breathing on their own, by sticking scissors into the back of the baby’s neck and cutting the spinal cord. These were live, breathing, squirming babies.”
He didn’t care about the wellbeing of these aborted babies. He didn’t care about the health of the women. Women were put under because he disliked the moaning and screaming.
This practice, and his disregard of the law, led to the death of two women, including Karnamaya Mongar.
Pennsylvania has a law against abortions after 24 weeks. It also has a very common sense law that says women should receive counseling about the abortion procedure and they must wait 24 hours after their first visit to the provider in order to fully consider the decision they are about to make.
While it is true that Kermit Gosnell ignored the law, these laws have saved lives. They have saved women from horrible and life threatening procedures. They have saved babies.
If the bill we are discussing today, the so-called Women’s Health Promotion Act, were to become law, Pennsylvania’s laws would be invalidated. Abortion providers would not be required to counsel their patients or give them 24 hours to consider the abortion. And, more importantly, it would lead to inhumane, unsanitary, heinous, dangerous, shocking, and unsafe abortions. The laws that helped convict Kermit Gosnell would be wiped away.
The Women’s Health Protection Act is an attempt to override U.S. Supreme Court precedent by severely restricting the ability of states to regulate abortion.
It would invalidate hundreds of abortion-related laws, such as: clinic regulations, admitting privileges requirements, regulations on abortion-inducing drugs, reflection periods, ultrasound requirements, conscience protections, sex-selection bans, and limitations on the use of state funds and facilities for abortion training.
My home state of Iowa has laws on the books to protect the unborn and the health of the women. For example, an Iowa law stipulates that when inducing an abortion by providing an abortion-inducing drug, a physician must be physically present with the woman at the time the abortion-inducing drug is provided. This was enacted to ensure that women were not taking abortion-inducing drugs via a web-cam, and then far from a medical provider who may save her life if something went wrong.
We also have a law on the books to protect the rights of medical professionals. Specifically, the law says: “An individual who may lawfully perform, assist, or participate in medical procedures which will result in an abortion shall not be required against that individual's religious beliefs or moral convictions to perform, assist, or participate in such procedures. A person shall not discriminate against any individual in any way, including but not limited to employment, promotion, advancement, transfer, licensing, education, training or the granting of hospital privileges or staff appointments, because of the individual's participation in or refusal to participate in recommending, performing, or assisting in an abortion procedure.”
Iowa and many other states have taken action on their own to make sure abortions are done in a safe manner. They have protected individuals from having to kill babies against their own religious beliefs.
Yet, the bill before us would invalidate these laws, and would allow abortion providers to set the standard of care for their patients with no oversight from the states. It would allow health care workers to determine when a life is viable, ensuring that there are several and various standards across the country. The bill would invalidate laws enacted by 10 states since 2010, which declare that unborn children are capable of experiencing pain at least by 20 weeks fetal age, and that generally prohibit abortion after that point.
If the bill before us were to be signed into law, the federal government would send a message to states that enacting laws to protect patients and regulate the health and welfare of their citizens is not their right. It would allow Congress to intrude on state’s rights and nullify life-saving laws on the books.
This bill is a weak political ploy before the midterm elections. It’s unfortunate that the Majority is using this issue to appear compassionate and concerned about women’s rights when, in reality, the bill disregards popular and common sense laws enacted by various states aimed at protecting women and children across the country. Large majorities of Americans support strong abortion restrictions that this bill would overturn.
This bill will not become law because the American people won’t support it. I thank the witnesses and look forward to their testimony.