A picture of Senator Thom Tillis
Thom T.
Republican NC

About Sen. Thom
  • Hire More Heroes Act of 2015—Continued

    by Senator Thom Tillis

    Posted on 2015-09-22

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    Read More about Hire More Heroes Act of 2015--Continued

    TILLIS. Mr. President, I thank my colleague from the great State of Alaska for his comments. I wish to be associated with those comments. I also thank him not only for his service in the Senate but for his service in the Marines.

    I stand here today heartbroken over the failure to advance a bill that would protect the lives of unborn babies--babies who are old enough, who, with proper care, can survive when born at this age.

    Many of my colleagues have spoken regarding all that we know about the science of fetal development--how unborn babies feel pain, when they feel pain, the related neurological data, and so on. Others will tell us that the United States is out of step with the overwhelming majority of other nations on this policy. Others will show poll numbers that demonstrate that an overwhelming majority of Americans, especially women, think this policy is a good policy--the policy that was voted down in this Chamber today.

    But we don't need to know all that to know what is right and what is wrong. We know what is right. Any of us who have ever watched our wife's belly grow, as I did with the miracle of my son and daughter; any of us who have ever experienced the excitement before learning the results of a prenatal test; any of us who have seen an ultrasound or attended a baby shower, we all know. We know because of the hundreds and thousands of friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers whose own baby stories we have watched over our lives. The stories of successful deliveries, the complications, the joys, the tragedies, and all of these stories--the beautiful stories and the bittersweet stories--have taught us the truth about the unborn. We all know. We don't need to be scientists to understand what the science can tell us.

    So I wish to tell some stories that illustrate what this bill, which was voted down today in this Chamber, is about.

    I want to start with Samuel. As early as 1999, we were doing fetal surgeries here in the United States. Samuel's parents, Julie and Alex, were given the terrible news that their unborn son had permanent nerve damage from an opening in his spine due to spina bifida. Doctors said that half of all babies with spina bifida were aborted, but Julie and Alex chose a different path for Samuel. This was at 21 weeks. Samuel was operated on in utero. Today he is all grown up. Samuel said that he believes God sent him to Earth to help stop abortion.

    Then there is Elijah.

    When April Leffingwell's ultrasound at 20 weeks revealed a life- threatening tumor growing in Elijah's left lung, she knew his life was in grave danger. Thankfully, this fateful diagnosis was not the end of the story. Instead, Elijah's life was saved by an innovative fetal surgery performed at just 25 weeks. During the surgery, 3 years ago, 5- month-old baby Elijah was given anesthesia to protect him from pain. He was then partially removed from his mother's womb, and the life- threatening tumor the size of an orange was removed. Elijah's primary surgeon at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia said that he would have died if the operation were not done before birth. Now, several years later, after a challenging beginning, Elijah is a healthy and very active toddler.

    Here is another story, about Micah.

    Micah's mom Danielle went into labor and delivered Micah when he was just 22 weeks old. This is little Micah shortly after delivery as shown in this picture. She was given the worst of news--that her son would not survive. But Micah received state-of-the-art care and spent the next 4 months in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU. Micah's parents kept vigil at his side and watched all the developmental milestones, which should have been reached in utero, be reached in the artificial environment in the NICU. And slowly, day by day, he made it. He thrived and is 3 years old.

    Micah and his family are here today at the Senate. I met them earlier today. He actually gave me this band that says ``Miracles for Micah.'' Surely my colleagues can see what Micah's parents see; that their son was just as precious at 22 weeks as he is today at 3 years old.

    There are more stories. Some of us remember former Philadelphia Eagles player Vaughn Hebron. Vaughn and his wife Kim were given the news that their twins, 5 months old in utero, were facing what is called twin-transfusion--a life-threatening condition. Doctors said there was a 70-percent chance that one or both of the twins would die, but Vaughn and his wife chose to fight for their boys. They received state-of-the-art care and both boys are now healthy teenagers.

    All of these children--the Hebron twins, Micah, Elijah, Samuel--there is only one difference between them and the babies aborted, dismembered, and sold by Planned Parenthood; the only difference is that these children were wanted and welcomed. If they are wanted and welcome, we fight like mad to save them. We throw everything at them that science and medicine can possibly do. We save their lives and we create miracles every day.

    We need this bill to protect those poor babies who are unwanted and unwelcome. We don't strip born children of their right to life and protection just because their parents don't want them. We take care of them at taxpayer expense. We try to help their parents support them. We provide health care for them. If their parents will not or can't raise them, we seek adoptive families for them. But if they are a few months, even a few days or a few minutes younger, our law denies them the opportunity to grow, to learn, and to become the bright-eyed, world- changing children we all cherish and protect.

    They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I think this one says it better than anything any of us will say on this Senate floor. This is a baby in utero around 20 weeks. There is simply no arguing that this is a baby. At this age, she is about 10 ounces, about 10 inches long--about the size of a big banana. A baby this age is practicing swallowing for the first time. She is moving. Her skin is thickening up so it is starting to lose that translucent look. A good fraction of the babies who are delivered prematurely at this age survive. A few weeks later, almost all of them survive.

    The bill we voted on today would have protected babies from this age and older--when they can feel pain, when they look like humans in photographs and sonograms, and when they are kicking around in their mama's bellies. Although we didn't advance this bill today, we must not give up. I am not giving up on my colleagues because I believe justice can still win out. This bill must eventually pass. History will clothe us in disgrace if we fail to do so. The law should protect these children. Nobody put it better than the late great children's author Dr. Seuss when he said: ``A person's a person, no matter how small.'' Mr. President, I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida.

    Corporate Culture in the Automobile Industry Mr. NELSON. Mr. President, Volkswagen has become part of the lexicon of the American economy, American culture. Volkswagen Beetles, at the time when I was growing up as a kid, were all a part of the America we know and love. Now we find out that Volkswagen for years has been purposely deceiving the American public--for that matter, their customers around the world--on their diesel cars by deceptively telling them what the mileage is on the cars. And oh, by the way, in the United States, because they were supposedly getting great mileage, there was a tax benefit to the purchasers of those vehicles.

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