Senator Mark O. Hatfield


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Domestic Policy:

April 28, 1976

Congressional Record - Senate: Page 11579

Mr. HATFIELD. Mr. President, today the Senate is giving consideration to an issue which is of extreme importance and which has generated very strong feelings among our people. I am confident that the Congress has just begun to deal with this issue, even though it has spent a number of months engaged in hearings on abortion since the fateful Supreme Court decision of January 1973.

I intend to vote against the motion to table the motion to proceed with the deliberation of Senate Joint Resolution 178, the Helms resolution. I am doing this in order that the Senate might proceed to deal with the substance of the abortion question and the actual merits of referring an amendment to the State legislatures. My vote does not indicate satisfaction with the language of the Helms resolution, for I share misgivings of a number of my colleagues about this particular resolution. If the opportunity had been given I was prepared to support a substitute amendment which would assure that abortions would be allowed to save the life of a mother. I had also talked with some of my colleagues about language which would substitute the moment of implantation for the moment of fertilization as the point at which protection would be given to the unborn. If these modifications had not been accepted I would also have supported versions which would at least refer the question to the State legislatures of allowing these State legislatures to subsequently make laws restricting abortion.

Whatever the outcome of this vote, I think it is important to remember that it is a vote strictly on the question of proceeding to consider the Helms resolution. A defeat of this effort is not the final chapter on the abortion question. We are engaged in a long-range consideration of a matter of great consequence. The Congress, in this session or in subsequent sessions, may well want to give additional consideration to the substance of the matter.

I thank the leadership for reserving time for me on this matter and regret that my participation in the conference committee on the Federal Election Commission bill did not allow me to participate more actively.

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