Denial Is a Senator from California
Life in the Senate.


Paul Kengor

If one were to hold a “most dogged foe of unborn human life in the U.S. Senate” contest, the competition would be stiff, and the decision difficult. At one time, I thought the winner was Senator Ted Kennedy (D., Mass.). By 2004, I thought Kennedy might be surpassed by Massachusetts’s other Democratic senator, John Kerry. Then, after spending a couple of years researching Sen. Hillary Clinton (D., N.Y.), I was convinced no one could be worse.

Alas, along came Sen. Barack Obama (D., lll.), who has not been in Congress long enough, I suppose, to stand out from the bottom of the pit — though his shocking record in the Illinois legislature, most notably in voting against legislation to provide emergency medical care to newborn babies that managed to survive failed abortions, probably earns the prize for the most horrid anti-life action I’ve ever come across by an American politician.

That said, it may be impossible to beat Senator Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) for all-around crassness and truly breathtaking statements in this area. As a case in point, consider three examples, from 1999, 2003, and last week.

The first took place in a Senate-floor debate over a bill to ban partial-birth abortion. Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Penn.), at the time the leading defender of the unborn in the Senate, paused to ask Senator Boxer a “what if.” What if, asked Santorum almost facetiously, in the course of the partial-birth abortion, the baby’s foot was inside the mother but the rest of the baby was outside. “Could that baby be killed?”

Santorum was trying to illustrate the absurdity of the point. He was taken aback, however, as Boxer struggled for an answer. Santorum pressed on, reiterating the question with different body parts, prompting Boxer — caught in the ridiculousness of her position — to snap, “I am not answering these questions.” Boxer informed Santorum that he (not she) was “losing his temper.”

Santorum did, however, get an answer from Boxer on this one: “Do you agree, once the child is born, separated from the mother, that that child is protected by the Constitution and cannot be killed?” Boxer replied: “I think when you bring your baby home, when your baby is born . . . the baby belongs to your family and has rights.” The gentle-lady from California had developed her own definition of a baby.

This surreal scenario was repeated during another debate over partial-birth abortion in October 2003, this time with Sen. Sam Brownback (R., Kan.). Brownback presented the now-famous photograph of tiny, pre-born Samuel Alexander Armas squeezing his doctor’s finger from his mother’s womb during a delicate emergency surgery. Brownback posed to Boxer the same kind of ludicrously simple and (one would think) unnecessary questions Santorum had tried. He asked the senator if the picture represented a piece of property or “the hand of a child.” Boxer fired back: “I am not a doctor, and I am not God.”