Life Advocacy Briefing

December 10, 2007

Friend of Life, Needing Friends / Fitting Recognition
Text of HRes-843 Honoring the Late Rep. Hyde / Advocating for Life


Friend of Life, Needing Friends

FORMER U.S. REP. JAMES ROGAN (R-CA) HAS A PROBLEM in his pending appointment to the US District Court for the central district of California:  Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has blocked his confirmation by exercising her prerogative as senator from his home state. His name was submitted by the President on Jan. 9, 2007.

There are a couple of reasons we should care, beyond understandable concern at any action undertaken by the abortion lobby’s best friend Mrs. Boxer. One is that Judge-nominee Rogan is a passionate defender of the rule of law, having served on the House Judiciary team which required Pres. William Clinton (D) to answer for perjury, among other crimes. The other is that former Rep. Rogan has a stellar record of defense and advocacy for the rights of the most vulnerable among us, the innocent unborn.

American citizens should take up his flagging cause now and call their two Senators to ask them to urge Sen. Boxer to lift the blackball off the name Jim Rogan and let his judicial nomination proceed to Senate consideration. Calls may be placed through the Capitol switchboard at 1-202/224-3121.


Fitting Recognition

A RESOLUTION HAS BEEN SUBMITTED in the US House “mourning the passing of Congressman Henry J. Hyde,” in the words of the official summary, “and celebrating his leadership and service to the people of Illinois and the United States of America.

HRes-843 was filed last Tuesday by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), who was elected to succeed Rep. Hyde when he retired in 2006. Joining him as initial co-sponsors of the resolution are Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH); Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO); House Pro-Life Caucus chairman Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ); House Values Action Team chairman Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-PA); Illinois GOP Representatives Don Manzullo, Jerry Weller, Tim Johnson, Ray LaHood, Mark Kirk and John Shimkus; and Illinois Democratic Representatives Jerry Costello, Dan Lipinski and Danny Davis.

The resolution has been referred to the House Committee on Administration rather than being brought forth for a vote, despite its ceremonial nature in saluting one of the greatest solons ever to serve in the United States Congress.

Readers are urged to call their own lawmakers and request their co-sponsorship of HRes-843 and to call House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD). Calls can be placed via the Capitol switchboard at 1-202/224-3121.

The House Leaders should be asked to bring the resolution to an immediate vote in the full House. To do less is to besmirch not the memory of Rep. Hyde but the honor of the House itself. Is the House Leadership stalling because of the reference to his “impassioned defense of innocent human life?” Or could it be to Rep. Hyde’s understanding and respect for “the rule of law?” As one key Capitol Hill aide noted in a memo concerning the resolution’s delay, “He gave 31 [sic] years of his life for public service; the least that Congress can do is consider a resolution to recognize his leadership.”


Text of HRes-843 Honoring the Late Rep. Hyde

Whereas all Members of Congress affect the history of the United States, but Congressman Henry J. Hyde leaves a legacy as one of the most principled and influential public servants of his generation that will endure for many years;

Whereas millions of men and women across America mourn the death of the distinguished former Congressman from Illinois;

Whereas Henry J. Hyde, upon his graduation from high school, earned a scholarship to play basketball at Georgetown University and participated in the 1942 NCAA national championship basketball tournament;

Whereas Henry J. Hyde served valorously in the United States Navy from 1994 to 1946 in the South Pacific, New Guinea, and the Lingayen Gulf and continued to serve in the Naval Reserve until 1968;

Whereas Henry J. Hyde returned to the United States from active duty in 1946, graduated a year later with a bachelor of arts degree and went on to earn a law degree from Loyola University Law School in 1950;

Whereas Henry J. Hyde served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1967-1974;

Whereas Henry J. Hyde was elected to serve Illinois’s 6th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives in 1974;

Whereas Henry J. Hyde will be remembered for his impassioned defense of innocent human life, including in his first term in Congress, his success in passing a ban on federal funding of abortions through an amendment commonly referred to as the Hyde Amendment that remains one of the most notable and lasting achievements of his distinguished career;

Whereas Henry J. Hyde was named chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in 1995 and played a vital role in the passage of key elements of the Contract with America, and as a skilled lawyer and someone who loved the practice of law, he understood and respected the rule of law as an essential part of American Democracy;

Whereas Henry J. Hyde was instrumental in the early 1980s reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and known for initiatives including the Family & Medical Leave Act; nutrition programs for women, infants and children; federal standards for collection of child support; and landmark patent, copyright and trademark reform legislation;

Whereas Henry J. Hyde was named chairman of the House International Relations Committee in 2001 and worked across the political divide to successfully enact legislation to address the burgeoning international HIV/AIDS crisis, and also succeeded in enacting landmark foreign assistance legislation, including the creation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the expansion of United States funding for microenterprise initiatives aimed at helping the poor and vulnerable;

Whereas during his long distinguished career, Henry J. Hyde played an integral role in debates over United States-Soviet relations, Central America policy, the War Powers Act, the Taiwan Relations Act, NATO expansion, and the investigation of the Iran-Contra affair;

Whereas Henry J. Hyde highly respected the institutional integrity of the House of Representatives and was a forceful advocate for maintaining the dignity of the House and for recognizing the sacrifices and struggles Members make while in its service;

Whereas, in 2006, Henry J. Hyde retired from the House of Representatives, where he maintained ties of bipartisan civility throughout the more than three decades of dedicated service;

Whereas Henry J. Hyde was awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, on November 5, 2007, for tirelessly championing the weak and forgotten and working to build a more hopeful America and promote a culture of Life; and

Whereas Henry J. Hyde has been characterized as a statesman, a constitutional scholar, a person with sharp wit and a keen sense of history, a passionate orator, a compassionate man, and a person who has left an indelible mark on the legacy of the United States House of Representatives: Now, therefore be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives –

  1. expresses its appreciation for the profound dedication and public service of Congressman Henry J. Hyde;
  2. notes that he was preceded in death by his late wife Jeanne Simpson and his son, Henry ‘Hank’ Hyde;
  3. tenders its deep sympathy to his wife Judy Wolverton, to his children Robert, Laura and Anthony, and to the entire family of the former Member of Congress and Staff;
  4. directs that the eulogies offered concerning the life of the Honorable Henry J. Hyde, former Representative from the State of Illinois, be bound and printed as a House document; and
  5. directs the Clerk of the House to transmit a copy of this resolution to the family of Congressman Henry J. Hyde.


Advocating for Life

LIFE ADVOCACY BRIEFING IS HONORED TO REPRINT MAJOR EXCERPTS from speeches delivered by the late Rep. Henry J. Hyde during the past 15 years.  Here we publish his March 20, 1997, speech to the US House, closing debate on the Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 1997. Source: Congressional Record

Mr. Speaker, when you have a theme as large and as profound as ours is today, you need the help of great literature to describe the magnitude of the horror of partial-birth abortion. I suppose Edgar Allen Poe could describe it, but it is startling how the words of the ghost of Hamlet’s father seem to anticipate our debate today:

            I could a tale unfold, whose lightest word would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood; make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres; thy knotted and combined locks to part; and each particular hair to stand on end, like quills upon the fretful porcupine.

There is no Member of this House who does not know in excruciating detail what is done to a human being in a partial-birth abortion. A living human creature is brought to the threshold of birth. She is four-fifths born, her tiny arms and legs squirming and struggling to live. Her skull is punctured. The wound is deliberately widened. Her brains are sucked out. The remains of the deceased are extracted. In the words of the abortion lobby, the baby undergoes demise. What a creative addition to the lexicon of dehumanization.

If calling an infant a “fetus” helps you, if calling this obscene act “intact dilation and evacuation” assuages your conscience, by all means do so. Anything is better than a troubling conscience. But you must know the only thing intact in this procedure is the baby, before, of course, the abortionist plunges his scissors, his assault weapon, into her tiny neck. Then she is not very intact.

Something was rotten in the state of Denmark, in Shakespeare’s great drama. Something is rotten in the United States, when this barbarity is not only legally sanctioned but declared a fundamental constitutional right.

While we are on Hamlet, who can forget the most famous question in all literature: “To be or not to be?” Every abortion asks that question but forbids an answer from the tiny, defenseless victim struggling to live.

When this issue was debated in the last Congress, the President and the defenders of partial-birth abortion claimed that the procedure was, in the President’s now familiar euphemism, rare, and that it was used only in times of grave medical necessity. All of us know now, as many of us knew then, that those claims were lies. They were lies. The executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers admitted on national television that he and others in the pro-abortion camp simply flatly lied about the incidence of partial-birth abortion.

It is not the case that these abortions are rare. It is not the case that this procedure is used only reluctantly and in extremis. It is not the case that this procedure is used only in instances of medical emergency. Partial-birth abortion, infanticide in plain English, is business as usual in the abortion industry. That is what the executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers told us.

Is this House prepared to defend the proposition that infanticide is a fundamental constitutional right?

Partial-birth abortion is not about saving life. Partial-birth abortion is about killing. Killing is an old story in the human drama; fratricide scarred the first human family, according to Genesis, but the moral prohibition on killing is as old as the temptation to kill. Most of the familiar translations of the Bible render the commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” A more accurate translation of the Hebrew text would read, “Thou shalt not do murder.” That is to say, “Thou shalt not take a life wantonly for the purposes of convenience or problem solving or economic benefit, nor trade a human life for any lesser value.”

The commandment in the Decalogue against doing murder is not sectarian dogma. Its parallel is found in every moral code in human history. Why? Because it has been understood for millennia that the prohibition against wanton killing is the foundation of civilization.

There can be no civilized life in a society that sanctions wanton killing. There can be no civil society when the law makes the weak, the defenseless and the inconvenient expendable. There can be no real democracy if the law denies the sanctity of every human life. The founders of the Republic knew this. That is why they pledged their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor to the proposition that every human being has an inalienable right to life.

Our Constitution promises equal protection under the law. Our daily pledge is for liberty and justice for all. Where is the protection, where is the justice, in partial-birth infanticide?

Over more than two centuries of our national history, we Americans have been a people who struggled to widen the circle of those for whom we acknowledge a common responsibility. Slaves were freed, women were even franchised, civil rights and voting rights acts were passed, our public spaces made accessible to the handicapped, Social Security mandated for the elderly, all in the name of widening the circle of inclusion and protection.

This great trajectory in our national experience, that of inclusion, has been shattered by Roe versus Wade and its progeny. By denying an entire class of human beings the protection of the laws, we have betrayed the best in our tradition. We have also put at risk every life which someone, some day, somehow might find inconvenient. “No man is an island,” preached the Dean of Saint Paul’s in Elizabethan times. He also said, “Every man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind.”

We cannot today repair all the damage done to the fabric of our culture by Roe versus Wade. We cannot undo the injustice that has been done to 35 million tiny members of the human family who have been summarily killed since the Supreme Court, strip-mining the Constitution, discovered therein a fundamental right to abortion. But we can stop the barbarity of partial-birth abortion. We can stop it, and we diminish our own humanity if we fail.

Historians tell us we live in the bloodiest century in human history. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot – the mountain of corpses reaches to the heavens and hundreds of millions of innocents cry out for justice.

But in saying “never again,” we commit ourselves to defend the sanctity of life. In saying “no” to the horrors of twentieth century slaughter, we solemnly pledge not to do murder, because the honoring of that pledge is all that stands between us and the moral jungle.

Mr. Speaker, we have had enough of the killing. The constitutional fabric has been shredded by an unenumerated abortion license which, sad to say, includes the vicious cruelty of partial-birth abortion. The moral culture of our country is eroding when we tolerate a cruelty so great that its proponents do not even wish us to learn the truth about this procedure.

This Congress has been blatantly, willfully, maliciously lied to by proponents of the abortion license.

Enough. Enough of the lies. Enough of the cruelty. Enough of the distortion of the Constitution. There is no constitutional right to commit this barbarity. That is what we are being asked to affirm.

In the name of humanity, let us do so. And in the words of Saint Paul, “Now is the acceptable time.”


Permission granted to quote with attribution. Reproduction rights granted only by express authorization.