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Thune: We Must Stand Up For the Human Rights of Unborn Americans

“It’s impossible to look at an unborn baby kicking her feet and sucking her thumb on an ultrasound and see her as anything but the human being she is.”

November 30, 2021

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today spoke on the Senate floor to defend the rights of the unborn. Thune noted that Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which the U.S. Supreme Court will hear this week, is the best opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade, but regardless of the outcome, he will continue to be a tireless advocate for the unborn. 


Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):


 “Mr. President, tomorrow the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Dobbs case, which deals with a Mississippi law that would prohibit most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.


“This case offers the best opportunity in many years to see Roe v. Wade overturned or modified – something that is long overdue.


“Roe v. Wade was a bad decision that should long ago have been reversed.


“Legal scholars from across the ideological spectrum have criticized the decision, noting, in the words of one expert, ‘As constitutional argument, Roe is barely coherent. The court pulled its fundamental right to choose more or less from the constitutional ether.’


“Or as another legal scholar put it, Roe is ‘a very bad decision … because it is bad constitutional law, or rather because it is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.’


“I should note, Mr. President, that both of the individuals I just quoted are actually supportive of abortion, but, like many others, both recognize that Roe is simply bad law.


“In the Roe decision, the Supreme Court reached far beyond the Constitution and the court’s interpretive role to impose a new abortion regime on the entire country.


“And it is past time for this unconstitutional decision to be overturned and for the court to return jurisdiction over abortion to the states.


“And, Mr. President, it’s important to note that overturning Roe would do just that – return jurisdiction over abortion to the states and to elected officials who can be held accountable for their decisions, and ultimately to the American people.


“Many assume – incorrectly – that overturning Roe would somehow automatically ban abortion nationwide. 


“It wouldn’t.


“It would simply return jurisdiction to the people’s elected representatives.


“Abortion law would become the domain of states and Congress, instead of the domain of unelected, activist members of the judiciary.


“Mr. President, members of the radical pro-abortion lobby – which controls the abortion policies of the Democrat Party – are of course up in arms over the Dobbs case.


“They are terrified that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe – and I suspect that the root of that fear is the knowledge that they need an activist court for their radical abortion agenda.




“Because the American people do not agree with the radical abortion lobby on abortion.


“For all its efforts to paint abortion on demand, at any time, up until the moment of birth, as the only possible position, the pro-abortion lobby has completely failed to convince the American people.


“Polls consistently show that a strong majority of the American people support at least some restrictions on abortion.


“Gallup has been polling on abortion for decades, and in all that time the percentage of Americans who believe abortion should be legal under any circumstance has always remained under 35 percent.


“In fact, for most of the past several decades that number has remained squarely under 30 percent.


“An Associated Press poll from this June found that 65 percent of Americans believe that abortion should generally be illegal in the second trimester – or from about 13 weeks of pregnancy – while a whopping 80 percent of Americans believe that abortion should generally be illegal in the third trimester.


“And it’s no surprise.


“Despite the abortion lobby’s attempts to dehumanize unborn children and portray them as nothing more than clumps of cells or unwanted growths, most Americans are well aware that an unborn child is a baby.


“A human being.


“An innocent human being.


“And because Americans generally gravitate toward justice and the defense of human rights and vulnerable human beings, they remain – despite the best efforts of the abortion lobby – fundamentally uncomfortable with unrestricted abortion.


“And so I think the root of the abortion lobby’s outrage is the knowledge that if Roe is overturned, their radical abortion agenda is unlikely to prevail nationwide because the American people simply do not agree with them on abortion.


“Mr. President, the pro-abortion lobby – and its allies in the Democrat Party – would like Americans to believe that Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban is extreme, radical legislation.


“Well, nothing could be further from the truth.


“In fact, the United States of America is a radical outlier on abortion.


“We are one of only seven countries in the world that allow elective abortion past 20 weeks.


“One of just seven countries in the world.


“Among those other countries are China and North Korea.


“Not exactly the kind of company we want to be keeping when it comes to defending human rights.


“Forty-seven out of 50 European countries – 47 out of 50 – either require women to have a specific reason for seeking an abortion or limit elective abortion to 15 weeks or earlier.


“Thirty-two European countries – including France, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, and many others – limit elective abortion to at or before 12 weeks’ gestation.


“Let’s just consider that for a minute, Mr. President.


“A substantial majority of European countries limit abortion to at or before 12 weeks.


“In other words, Mississippi’s 15-week abortion law is not on the radical fringe when it comes to abortion, it is squarely in the mainstream for western democracies – and is in fact more permissive than the abortion laws of a majority of European countries.


“And yet the abortion lobby would have us believe that Mississippi is pushing some kind of extreme abortion legislation.


“Mr. President, let’s talk about unborn babies at 15 weeks.


“Fifteen-week-old unborn children have fully developed hearts that have already beat more than 15 million times.


“They yawn, make facial expressions, and suck their thumbs. 


“They respond to taste and touch.


“And, Mr. President, scientific evidence suggests that they can feel pain.


“Pro-abortion activists may not like to hear it, but scientific evidence shows that the neural connections necessary to transmit pain are fully in place by around 20 weeks, and that babies may actually begin to experience pain as early as 12 weeks. 


“So when we’re talking about a 15-week-old unborn baby, we’re talking about a baby who may very well already be able to experience pain – and will certainly be able to experience it a few weeks later if she can’t now.


“And yet in this country, it is perfectly legal to kill unborn children who are able to feel pain – and kill them with an abortion procedure so brutal and barbaric it is difficult to even describe.


“And yet it needs to be mentioned, because we need to acknowledge the reality that we are killing unborn babies in this country capable of feeling pain using a widely employed abortion procedure that involves dismembering the unborn child.


“As I said, Mr. President, it’s incredibly hard – in fact, heartbreaking – to even talk about.


“The abortion lobby would like to draw a veil over what happens inside abortion clinics, but the truth is that abortions are brutal and inhumane – certainly to the baby, but in many respects to the mother as well.


“Mr. President, since the Supreme Court handed down the Roe v. Wade decision, there have been an estimated 62 million-plus abortions in the United States.


“That number is so big it’s pretty much unfathomable.


“To put it in some kind of perspective, 62 million is nearly three times the population of the entire state of Florida.


“That’s how many unique, unrepeatable human beings we’ve lost to abortion since Roe.


“Mr. President, we are better than this. 


“And we have to do better than this. 


“Our country was founded to safeguard human rights.


“We haven’t always lived up to that promise, but we’ve never stopped trying. 


“And it’s time for us to continue that work by standing up for the most vulnerable human beings among us – the unborn children whose human rights are not protected, and whose lives can be taken away at any time.


“Mr. President, thanks to medical advancements, it’s possible for babies born at 22 weeks to survive outside their mothers.


“It’s also perfectly legal to kill unborn children at 22 weeks.


“Something is radically wrong with that picture.


“How can an unborn child of 22 weeks be regarded as a human being worthy of protection in one case, and in the other case be regarded as nothing but a clump of cells to be disposed of in an abortion clinic?


“The cognitive dissonance is mindboggling.


“Mr. President, the more we learn about unborn children, the more we see their humanity.


“It’s impossible to look at an unborn baby kicking her feet and sucking her thumb on an ultrasound and see her as anything but the human being she is.


“Science, and medical advancements, and plain old common sense all point inexorably to the humanity of the unborn child.


“And human beings, Mr. President, deserve to be protected.


“And a good place to start would be with laws like Mississippi’s.


“Laws that would bring us into the mainstream of abortion laws worldwide.


“As I said, Mr. President, the United States is one of just seven countries in the world – including China and North Korea – that allow elective abortion past 20 weeks of pregnancy.


“I’d like to think that we can do a better job of protecting unborn children’s human rights than China and North Korea.


“So, Mr. President, I hope that the Supreme Court will uphold Mississippi’s law and open the door to greater protection for unborn children.


“But win or lose, I – and many, many, many others – will continue to stand up for the human rights of unborn Americans.


“And I am confident that in the end, right and justice and life will prevail.


“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”