A picture of Representative Louise McIntosh Slaughter
Louise S.
Democrat NY 25

About Rep. Louise
  • Providing for Consideration of H.R. 161, Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act, and Providing for Consideration of H.R. 36, Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

    by Representative Louise McIntosh Slaughter

    Posted on 2015-01-21

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    Read More about Providing for Consideration of H.R. 161, Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act, and Providing for Consideration of H.R. 36, Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

    SLAUGHTER. I want to thank my colleague for his great work and for yielding to me.

    Mr. Speaker, today, The Wall Street Journal polled the American public and found that these are their top three priorities: creating jobs, defeating ISIS, and reducing the Federal budget deficit.

    Mr. Speaker, I insert that piece from The Wall Street Journal into the Record.

    [From The Wall Street Journal] Poll Finds Agenda Gap Between Leaders, American People (By Janet Hook) Republicans are trying to burnish their party's image--and Congress'--by promising to ``get things done'' now that the GOP controls both the House and Senate. But a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that the public doesn't care much about some of the first things the GOP, or President Barack Obama, is trying to do.

    The poll conducted from Jan. 14-17 found that two of the major issues congressional Republicans and the White House have identified as candidates for bipartisan action--trade and simplification of the tax code--didn't even make the top five issues that people feel need to be addressed urgently.

    The poll tried to identify the issues that are most important to Americans by asking which issues they considered an ``absolute priority'' for Congress and the president to act on this year, as opposed to issues that they think could be delayed.

    The list was topped by enduring concerns: job creation, fighting Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria, reducing the federal deficit and securing the U.S. border.

    But people are virtually yawning at the prospect of expanding U.S. trade, a priority for an administration trying to finalize a new free-trade agreement with Asian and Pacific Rim countries. Only 20% said that was an urgent priority for this year, 59% said it could be delayed until next year and 16% said it shouldn't be pursued at all.

    ``It's a reminder that this is for the most part a very distant economic issue and it's not one that people focus on,'' said Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who conducted the poll with Democrat Fred Yang.

    The apathy about trade is bipartisan. Only 22% of Republicans and 21% of Democrats said it was a top priority.

    Simplifying the tax code is also an issue that's not a top- five policy priority for most Americans, but is treated like a motherhood issue by politicians of both parties. Just over half polled said it was an urgent priority--less than the percentage who wanted to make ``efforts to address Iran's nuclear program'' a top agenda item.

    Even some of the issues Washington lawmakers are fighting over are matters of only marginal concern to many people. Republicans have acted quickly on a bill to finish construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and Mr. Obama threw down his first veto threat over it. But nearly four in ten people polled said they didn't know enough about the issue to have an opinion.

    The survey of policy priorities underscored another trend that doesn't bode well for bipartisan cooperation: On all but a handful of issues, such as job creation and infrastructure repair, the poll found big disparities in the interests of the two parties. So, while 67% of Democrats identified income inequality as an urgent priority, only 19% of Republicans did. U.S. border security was a top priority for 79% of Republicans but only 43% of Democrats.

    It's not surprising, then, that the poll found people were down on the idea of having divided government. Mr. Obama and Republicans in Congress may agree on the need to ``get things done.'' The problem is there isn't a lot of agreement on what ``things'' should get priority.

    Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, why am I bringing that up? The offense, to me, is that there are so many people in Congress who always want to bring up this issue of eating away at Roe v. Wade. They don't have the nerve, I think, really, to try to take that away.

    Roe v. Wade gave women a choice, and I believe that, if you don't want to have that choice yourself, don't use it; but what right do people who do not agree with choice have to make it the law of the land--to require everybody to live under what they believe is true? Now, there is not a scintilla of scientific evidence that at 20 weeks pain is felt. The neural connections are not there to have that happen.

    Mr. Speaker, I also want to insert into the Record what scientists-- the executive vice president and others--have said from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in that this is not possible.

    January 21, 2015.

    Dear Member of the House of Representatives, We, the undersigned medical and public health organizations, stand in strong opposition to H.R. 36, the so-called ``Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,'' sponsored by Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Representative Marsha Blackburn (R- TN). Politicians are not doctors and should not interfere in personal, medical decisions.

    If enacted, H.R. 36 would ban most abortions in the United States at 20 weeks after fertilization, clearly before viability. The bill threatens providers with fines and/or imprisonment for providing professional and compassionate care, and is intended to intimidate and discourage doctors from providing abortion care. This bill places health care providers in an untenable situation--when they are facing a complex, urgent medical situation, they must think about an unjust law instead of about how to protect the health and safety of their patients.

    Politicians are not medical experts. H.R. 36 disregards the health issues and real life situations that women can face in pregnancy. Every woman faces her own unique circumstances, challenges, and potential complications. She needs to be able to make decisions based on her physician's medical advice and what is right for her and her family.

    H.R. 36 would force a doctor to deny an abortion to a woman who has determined that terminating a pregnancy is the right decision for her, including women carrying a pregnancy with severe and lethal anomalies that may not be diagnosed until after 20 weeks in pregnancy and women with serious medical conditions brought on or exacerbated by pregnancy. H.R. 36 contains no exception to preserve the health of the woman. Instead, it includes a vague life endangerment exception which exposes doctors to the threat of criminal prosecution, limiting their options for care that is often needed in complex, urgent medical situations.

    Moreover, H.R. 36 would dictate how physicians should care for their patients based on inaccurate and unscientific claims. Conclusive research shows that contrary to the sponsors' claims, the fetus doesn't have the neurological structures needed to experience pain until significantly later in pregnancy.

    We strongly oppose governmental interference in the patient-provider relationship and criminalizing provision of care to women and their families. H.R. 36 jeopardizes the health of women in the U.S. by limiting access to safe and legal abortion and replaces personal decision-making by women and their doctors with political ideology. Our organizations urge you to oppose passage of H.R. 36.

    Sincerely, American College of Nurse-Midwives, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Medical Students Association, American Medical Women's Association, American Nurses Association, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, Medical Students for Choice, National Abortion Federation, National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health, National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Society of Family Planning.

    Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, as a scientist, I have learned that this Congress does not take scientific facts as facts but that it views them as, maybe, suggestions. Yet how often it is that we are playing with people's lives. It is the most personal decision one could ever make, and it should be made between the woman, her family, or whomever she wants to consult--her doctor, her priest, her pastor--anybody--but not the Congress of the United States.

    Why do men in blue suits and red ties get to make that decision when it has nothing to do with scientific or medical facts? It is absolutely astonishing to me that this continues over and over again; and in the States that have passed 20-week abortion bills, the bills have always been overturned with regard to the constitutional question, and this will be as well.

    [[Page H447]] Time and time again, when asked about it, neurobiology specialists, obstetricians, and gynecologists the world over have refuted the scientific and factual premises of this bill, but nobody cares about that here. I saw a great button that called the people here who are trying to do this today ``gyneticians.'' A ``gynetician'' is described as a politician who knows more about women's health than doctors do.

    We can go on with this, but what we need to remember is that, last night, half of the President's speech dealt with people who are underpaid and who struggle to live in America.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentlewoman has expired.

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