Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today delivered the following statement on the floor of the U.S. Senate on his vote supporting the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, S. 1553:
“Mr. President, earlier today I was honored to vote for cloture on the motion to proceed to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act offered by my friend Senator Graham from South Carolina.
“Nearly 17 years ago to the day, I came to the Senate floor to cast a vote to override then-President Clinton’s veto of the federal partial-birth abortion ban and to speak out for the voiceless unborn children who were victims of that deplorable practice. As supporters of that effort to end partial-birth abortion in the United States will recall, it was a long journey to see legislation finally signed into law in 2003, but a journey fully consistent with America’s long commitment to the rights and dignity of all human life. Enacting that legislation called upon our nation’s moral conscience in the same way that our country is compelled to action in the face of injustice at home and abroad, and I believe that we, as a nation, are better off for it today.
“The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that the Senate considered today is no different. I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of this legislation to protect the lives of unborn children by banning abortions beyond the time when a child in the womb can feel pain. My support for this bill is a continuation of my long-standing and unequivocal pro-life record since I was first elected to the U.S. Congress back in 1982.
“As was the case when the Senate considered the ban on partial-birth abortion, we have to recognize that the bill the Senate voted on today does not fit neatly into the traditional debate about whether you are ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice.’ This bill is about banning the extreme practice of late-term abortions and protecting the life of fully-formed human beings that can feel real pain. These abortions occur at the beginning of the 6th month of pregnancy. They end the life of a human being that has been found worthy of fetal anesthesia to dull the pain that the procedure causes, but somehow unworthy of life. I submit that to oppose this bill, to vote to allow this practice to continue to be legal in this country, is extreme and unconscionable.
“This effort puts us on the right side of the American people and the right side of history. This legislation has 45 co-sponsors in the Senate, and it passed the House by a vote of 242-184 in May of this year. A recent poll found that 64 percent of Americans support restricting late-term abortions.
“I am proudly pro-life because I believe this is a human rights issue inextricably tied to the values of our nation. These are the same values that have resulted in a long-held American commitment to fighting for human rights and for the disadvantaged and voiceless around the world. The same commitment to fighting for human life must be true in our nation today for unborn children.
“In April 2014, TIME Magazine ran a cover story called ‘A Preemie Revolution: Cutting-edge medicine and dedicated caregivers are helping the tiniest babies survive – and thrive.’ The article discussed remarkable medical advancements that have resulted in a steadily decreasing age of viability for infants born prematurely. It details the complexities of caring for premature babies, the challenge of seeing to things as basic as breathing for these babies, as well as the ‘round-the-clock SWAT team of nearly 300 [medical professionals]’ that come together at neonatal intensive care units (NICU) to fight for these tiny lives.
“In the author’s words, ‘[I]n some ways, the work of a NICU will always seem like an exercise in disproportion – an army of people and a mountain of infrastructure caring for a pound of life. But it’s a disproportion that speaks very well of us.’ The fight for human life that goes on in NICUs around the country is irreconcilable with the current status quo in our federal law that permits late-term abortions.
“As we know, what is at stake in this debate is made all the more real and urgent by the heinous video footage showing Planned Parenthood’s role in the harvesting of unborn babies’ body parts. I was proud to vote in support of defunding Planned Parenthood while preserving federal funding for women’s health services.
“I urge my colleagues to consider the significance of this vote today, the reality of the practice that this bill is aimed at prohibiting, and what permitting late-term abortions says about our nation’s commitment to fighting for life and standing-up for human rights when our conscience calls us to. I deeply regret that this body failed today to vote for the voiceless, and ban late-term abortions and protect life. I urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to reconsider their position on this important issue.