of the test, which told me that there was an abnormal test result
and that I should have an amniocentesis test. My husband and I
talked about it. An abortion was not an option. This was our baby.
We were very strong; God would not give us more than we could
handle, but we knew we needed to know what we were dealing
with. So we went for the amniocentesis test.
During the ultrasound for the amniocentesis test, the doctor no-
ticed that the ventricles to the baby's brain were overly dilated,
and he had too much fluid in his head. He told me to have another
ultrasound in 2 weeks. I didn't really know what that meant, so I
rushed to my Ob/Gyn's office and she explained to me that's called
hydrocephalus. If there is too much fluid in the baby's brain or in
the baby's head, a brain cannot develop. I told my husband, and
he told me not tx) worry, that everything would be OK in 2 weeks.
We really believed everything would be OK
At this point in time was when we were moving from Chicago to
Los Angeles. So we had a week to drive across the country and to
talk and think and pray. When we arrived in Los Angeles, there
was a letter waiting for us at our new apartment telling us that
the amniocentesis results were perfect. Those were the exact words
they used: "perfect."
The next day was Sunday. We went to church and we thanked
God because our problems were over. When we called our families
to tell them that the results were perfect, my mother-in-law said
to me, "What about the fluid-in-the-head problem?"
And I said, "Oh, don't worry about that. Everything is going to
be fine. We've been praying so hard."
The next dav was my husband's first day at work, and we had
a visit scheduled with the perinatalogist. We used to live in Los
Angeles, so I had a doctor there, an Ob/Gyn, that I was very com-
fortable with. I had known him for quite some time. And I thought
it would be â€” so he recommended the perinatalogist.
My husband did go with me. I picked him up at work after he
had been there only a few short hours. The doctor. Dr. Connie
Agnew, asked why we were there. We told her what the doctors in
Chicago had told us. She said she would make her own diagnosis,
so just sit tight.
Within about a minute, she told us she did not have good news,
that it was a very advanced textbook case of hydrocephaly. My hus-
band almost passed out. We asked what we could do, and she said
there was absolutely nothing. An hydrocephalic baby far advanced
has no hope. I was about 22 weeks pregnant. The doctor would
most likely â€” the baby would most likely be stillborn, and she rec-
ommended we terminate the pregnancy.
Our Ob/Gyn in Los Angeles, Dr. William Frumovitz, rec-
ommended a second opinion. He sent us to Cedar Sinai Hospital to
Dr. Dm Carlson. Dr. Carlson stayed late to see us and confirmed
our worst fears. She asked us to bear with her as she looked exam-
ined our baby, the baby we knew we would never have. She worked
very hard for 45 minutes, and she told us that, in addition to the
hydrocephaly, the baby had almost no stomach and that he could
not swallow. Obviously, a baby with no brain, stomach, or ability
to swallow could not survive. So she also recommended we termi-
nate the pregnancy.
My poor husband had the horrible job of calling our parents and
grandparents and telling them the awful news. My father started
crying; we were all crying. This couldn't be happening to us, but
All three doctors referred us to Dr. James McMahon. They said
that the procedure that he performs, the intact dilation and evacu-
ation, is the best and safest procedure for me to have. The multiple
days of dilation would not be traumatic to my cervix, and this was
very important to preserve my body for future pregnancies. Dr.
Carlson said that with this type of procedure an autopsy could be
performed to see if there were other problems that we could try to
avoid future pregnancies. That's one reason why this procedure is
so important, because people can see and hold and bury their ba-
bies, and they can be studied to see if there is other genetic prob-
After the dilation â€” the dilation took 3 days â€” I'll speed up; I'm
sorry â€” and two trips a day to his office.
Mr. Watt. Mr. Chairman, I'll be happy to yield my 5 minutes to
Ms. Line. Thank you very much, sir.
These were the worst days of our lives. We lost our baby before
we even had him.
After the dilation was complete, I was put under heavy anesthe-
sia, and a simple needle was used to remove the fluid from our
son's head. This is the same fluid that killed him. This enabled his
head to fit through my cervix. No scissors were used, and no one
sucked out my baby's brains. A simple needle was used.
My husband and I were so disturbed by the way this compas-
sionate medical procedure has been portrayed. We are very private,
personal people, but I am here today because of this, because we
were so disturbed.
We thoroughly investigated this procedure before we had it.
Every specialist we saw told us it was safe and very compassionate.
What they're saying â€” and, like I said, what you guys have been
saying is just so disturbing, that I went back to Dr. McMahon's of-
fice to try to figure out why this procedure was being portrayed the
way it was, totally misrepresented.
We are the truth squad that was mentioned earlier today, Coreen
and I. This was not birth control. We desperately wanted our ba-
bies. This was the hardest thing I have ever been through, and I
prav it's never going to happen to anyone again, but it will. It's
prooably happening to someone right now, and those of us unfortu-
nate enough to have to live through this need a procedure which
will give us hope for the future.
I am very lucky that I was able to have this procedure. Because
the trauma to my body was minimized, I was able to become preg-
nant again only 4 months later. We are expecting another baby in
September. Dr. McMahon and the intact dilation and evacuation
procedure made this possible for us.
One of the first things Dr. McMahon told us was that his job was
not done until he and his staff receive a baby picture of our next
child. At that time I couldn't ever imagine becoming pregnant, but
a month later it was all I thought about. I desperately wanted to
be pregnant and to finally start our family. This procedure gave us
hope. Please don't take that away from the families who will need
it after us. You must leave medical decisions to the families and
the medical experts who have to live with the consequences. This
is not the place of government to interfere in these very private,
[The prepared statement of Ms. Line follows:]
Prepared Statement of Mary-Dorothy Line, Los Angeles, CA
My name is Mary-Dorothy Line. I am here today to oppose H.R. 1833. This legis-
lation would outlaw a compassionate medical procedure that helped me and my fam-
ily through the most difficult situation in our lives. I have come to Washington to
oppose this legislation to ensure that it is available to other women and families
in the future.
I am a registered Republican and a practicing Catholic. My husband, Bill, is a
consulting engineer. We live in Los Angeles, California. Bill and I got married while
in college. We had been married almost 14 years before we decided to start our fam-
ily. Since having children was not a decision we took lightly, we waited until we
were financially, emotionally, and spiritually prepared. In April of 1995 when we
found out I was pregnant, we were thrilled. We waited to tell my father and our
other family members until Father's Day â€” an extra special Father's Day present.
The first four months proceeded normally. Dr. Pamela Lui, an OB/GYN at North-
western University Hospital in Chicago was my doctor and I followed her instruc-
tions exactly. I read everything I could about pregnancy and parenting. We debated
having an amniocentesis, but Dr. Lui said that it was not necessary due to my age
(under 35) and no family history of genetic disorders. But she did recommend an
alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) test which is routinely performed in most pregnancies to
screen for neurological anomalies such as spina bifida. The nurse who drew my
blood for the AFP said she would call me with the results in about two weeks, but
if there was a problem, the doctor would call.
When Dr. Lui called I was not thinking and started chatting away to her until
I remembered what the nurse said; my heart started pounding. Dr. Lui told me that
the AFP showed an elevated level of something which might indicate that there was
a problem with our baby. She advised us to have an amniocentesis even thou^ the
chances were still great that everything was fine.
My husband and I talked about what we would do if there was something "abnor-
mal." We quickly decided that we are strong people and very much in love and, that
whUe having a mentally or physically disabled child would be hard, that it would
not be too hard. But we also decided that we needed to know what we were dealing
with, so I made an appointment with a perinatalogist at Northwestern Hospital to
have an amniocentesis. During the ultrasound for the amniocentesis, the doctor no-
ticed that the baby's head was too large and that there was a lot of fluid in his head.
He told me to have another ultrasound in two weeks to check the progression.
I had no idea what all this meant so I rushed to Dr. Lui's office and asked her
to explain. She drew some pictures and explained that the condition was called hy-
drocephalus; that in every person's head there is fluid to protect and cushion the
brain, but if there is too much fluid, the brain cannot develop. I called my husband
at work and had him taken out of a meeting to ask him to meet me right away.
I explained everything to him. He said that everything would work out and not to
worry. We actually believed everything would be OK in two weeks.
I told my father that we might have a problem, but he also said that everything
would be fine since there are no genetic problems in either Bill's family or mine.
When we told my mother-in-law, she said she would pray for us. We are all Catholic
and go to church every week. When we have problems and worries, we turn to pray-
er. So, we prayed, as did our parents and grandparents.
To complicate matters even more, while these problems were occurring Bill and
I were in the process of moving from Chicago to Los Angeles for my husband's job.
As we were driving across the country, we had a week to talk and think and pray.
We arrived at our new apartment in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon to a letter
from Northwestern Hospital in Chicago saying that the amniocentesis results were
perfect. We were so relieved. I knew that there was still a chance that the excess
fluid on the brain was a problem, but we had been praying so hard and wanted this
baby so much that we truly believed that everything was going to be fine. Since it
was Sunday, we went to church and thanked God. We went to bed happy that night;
our worries were over.
Monday was my husband's first day of work at his new job. I had an appointment
scheduled with a perinatalogist from Santa Monica Hospital and Cedar Sinai Hos-
Fital for another ultrasound. Bill insisted on coming to the ultrasound, even though
told him that he did not need to be there â€” after all, it was his first day of work.
But I did think it would be exciting for him to see our baby on the ultrasound. I
was 21 weeks pregnant.
The doctor. Dr. Connie Agnew, asked why we were there. We explained what the
doctors in Chicago had told us and she said she would make her own diagnosis.
After about a minute, she told us that she did not have good news; it was a very
advanced textbook case of hydrocephaly. My husband almost passed out. We asked
what we could do and she said there was nothing we could do. A hydrocephalic baby
that advanced has no hope. The baby would most likely be stillborn. She rec-
ommended that we terminate the pregnancy.
Our ob/gyn in Los Angeles, Dr. William Frumovitz, recommended a second opin-
ion. Dr. Frumovitz sent us to a wonderful, compassionate doctor at Cedar Sinai Hos-
pital, Dr. Dru Carlson. She stayed late to see us and confirmed our worst fears. She
asked us to bear with her eis she looked at our baby to see if there were any other
problems besides the hydrocephaly. We sat there and watched as she examined our
baby, the baby we knew we would never have. She worked very hard for 45 minutes
and then told us that in addition to the brain fluid problem, the baby's stomach had
not developed and he could not swallow. We asked about in-utero operations and
drains to remove the fluid, but Dr. Carlson said there was absolutely nothing we
could do. The hydrocephaly was too advanced. Our precious little baby was destined
to be taken from us. Dr. Carlson also recommended that we terminate the preg-
My poor husband called our parents and grandparents and told them the awful
news. My father started crying; we were all crying. This couldn't be happening to
us. But it did happen to us. Doctors Frumovitz, Agnew and Carlson referred us to
Dr. James McManon. They all said that the procedure that he performs, the intact
dilation and evacuation (Intact D&E), was the best and safest procedure for me to
have. The multiple days of dilation would not be traumatic to my cervix. This was
important to preserve my body and protect my future fertility. They knew that that
was very important to my husband and I since we really wanted to have children
in the future. Dr. Carlson said that with this procedure they would be able to per-
form an autopsy to determine if we were likely to face similar problems in future
pregnancies. With no hope for this baby, our doctors were recommending the best
option, with hope for the future.
Dr. McMahon and his staff were the kindest people you could ever meet. They
explained the intact D&E procedure to us. Dr. McMahon used ultrasound to exam-
ine the baby, in case the three other sp>ecialists were wrong. They were not.
The dilation took three days and two trips a day to his office. These were the
worst days of our lives. We had lost our son before we even had him. After the dila-
tion was complete, I was put under heavy anesthesia. A simple needle was used to
remove the fluid from the baby's head, the same fluid that killed our son. This en-
abled his head to fit through my cervix.
My husband and I are disturbed by the way this compassionate medical procedure
has been portrayed by members of Congress. We throughly investigated tnis proce-
dure before we had it. Every specialist told us that it is a safe and compassionate
procedure. We were very informed and educated before making this decision. What
they were saying in Congress bothered us so much that I went back to Dr.
McMahon's omce to try to figure out why this procedure was being misrepresented.
Our anjrer at how this procedure was portrayed is why I am here today.
This is the hardest thing I have ever been through. I pray that this will never
happen to anyone ever again, but it will and those of us unfortunate enough to have
to live through this nightmare need a procedure which will give us hope Tor the fu-
ture. With this procedure families can see, hold and even bury their babies. In addi-
tion, the baby can be visually or clinically studied by specialists to determine if
there are genetic abnormalities that can be avoided in nature pregnancies. I am
lucky that 1 was able to have this procedure. Because the trauma to my body was
minimized by this procedure, I was able to become pregnant again, only four months
later. We are expecting another baby in September. Dr. McMahon and the intact
D&E procedure made this possible for us.
One of the first things Dr. McMahon told us was that his job was not done until
he and his staff receive a baby picture of our next child. At the time, I couldn't
imagine becoming pregnant ever again. A month later, it was all I thought about.
I desperately wanted to be pregnant and finally start our family. This procedure
gave us hope. Please don't take that way from the families who will need it after
us. You must leave medical decisions to the families and the medical experts who
have to live with the consequences. It is not the place of government to interfere
in these very private, personal decisions.
Mr. Canady. Ms. Alvare.
STATEMENT OF HELEN M. ALVARE, ESQ., ON BEHALF OF THE
NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS
Ms. Alvare. Good afternoon. My name is Helen Alvare from the
National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and I thank vou for the
opportunity to testify. I have been asked to help the subcommittee
consider the testimony you've heard today from within a moral
The most important testimony you've heard about partial-birth
abortion, of course, is the accurate medical description of what hap-
pens in that procedure. In sum, it's designed such that an abortion-
ist kills a human infant who is partially delivered outside of his or
her mother's womb. The infant is not directly anesthetized to pre-
vent pain, and, certainly, as you've heard this morning, is not anes-
thetized to the point of death in the womb prior to delivery. Once
so delivered, according to the writings of Dr. Haskell, the infant is
killed by inserting a pair of scissors into the base of the skull. And
then, as Dr. Haskell also writes, the scissors are spread wide
enough to allow the introduction of a catheter to suck out the con-
tents of the skull.
One of the clearest and most compelling guides to the morality
of any act is its physical structure. A description of the partial-
birth abortion speaks loudly of its own immorality. It is nothing
other than the direct killing of an innocent human being, an act
deemed immoral and unacceptable through time and across con-
tinents. Furthermore, a number of factors make it particularly
frightening that this kind of killing could legally continue, let alone
derive any support in the United States today.
First, partial-birth kills the most defenseless among us. By virtue
of their youth, their physical weakness, their legal powerlessness,
and in some cases their physical disability, the victims of partial-
birth deserve our most strenuous protection, not the most heinous
abortion procedure the industry has invented, particularly in a
country that claims to pride itself on its human rights tradition.
Second, the partial-birth abortion bears a far greater resem-
blance to infanticide than to abortion. It's the slippery slope that
many have warned of for years. The pro-life community warned
that it wasn't long before the same arguments used to justify the
killing of the unborn would be used to justify the killing of the
born. We're there already in the sense that we have laws like the
ninth circuit coming down justifying the killing of the elderly based
on Roe v. Wade. And here with partial-birth we have attempt at
justification of killing the mostly-born. Opponents of the bill keep
asking whether enacting it would be the first step to banning all
abortions, but the real question is allowing this procedure; won't it
be a step toward legalized infanticide?
A fourth reason partial-birth abortion is particularly heinous is
because of its pure physical brutality. Forcibly dragging the infant's
body out of the womb, stabbing the head, suctioning it â€” the very
violence of each of these is an assault upon the humanity of the
victim and upon every doctor or nurse who performs or witnesses.
Turning now to the attempts by advocates of partial-birth abor-
tion to overcome the immorality of the act with the anecdotal ex-
amples of witnesses who have testified before me, the testimony
we've heard today from mothers who have undergone partial-birth
abortions has been quite emotional. It rightly elicits from us emo-
tional sympathy for the extremely difficult situations for women
struck by tragedy late in a pregnancy. As a woman myself in the
middle of her fifth pregnancy, having lost three, how can I not feel
the emotion that I'm hearing today? But it would wrong for me, or
for anyone, to conclude that such situations could justify a particu-
larly brutal kind of killing of the innocent.
For the act of deliberately killing a vulnerable human being is
wrong, no matter how much the baby had been wanted, no matter
how sad the mother is about requesting the procedure, no matter
how much she feels that she would never have desired an abortion
before this tragedy struck her, no matter how strongly that she
feels that it is better for her son or daughter to die in this way
than, for example, to die naturally in her arms with pain relief.
The moral culpability or lack of culpability of the one who requests
the partial-birth abortion cannot transform the killing itself, to
right the wrong.
And H.R. 1833 is only about judging the act itself, not the moth-
er who requests it. It is most definitely not about judging Ms.
Costello's or Ms. Line's, or any other woman's, personal culpability.
It is the proper place of law in society â€” I have about 30 seconds
more â€” to reflect our collective judgments about what is objectively
wrong. And partial-birth abortion, no matter the motivations that
lead to them, are objectively cruel to the victims. Even prescinding
from the fact that Dr. Haskell and others who perform this do not
claim that in most cases they're addressing the mother's physical
health or her life, or even a health problem with the baby, we can-
not make this act, this wrong act, right by asserting that the victim
was disabled, something that has been repeated today.
It is not enough that the disabled struggle every day in our coun-
try with prejudices, large and small. Can Congress really be in the
position of telling them that partial-birth abortions are going to be
allowed to continue on the strength of testimony that they make
it easier for parents to say goodbye to their disabled children, be-
cause they can do so in one piece as opposed to, for example, the
dismemberment that would occur with an alternative procedure?
Although we all wish to relieve as much pain as we can from a par-
ent's suffering at the prospect of a disabled or imminently dying
child, we can't say this to the disabled.
And I want to thank you again for the opportunity to present
this testimony today.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Alvare follows:]
Prepared Statement of Helen M. Alvare, Esq., on Behalf of the National
Conference of Catholic Bishops
Good morning and thank you for this opportunity to testify. I have been asked
to help you consider the testimony you have neard today from within a moral frame-
The most important testimony concerning partial birth abortion that has been
presented to you today concerns the accurate medical description of what happens
during this procedure In sum, this procedure is designed such that an abortionist
kills a human infant who is partially delivered outside of his or her mother's womb.
The infant is not directly anesthetized to prevent pain. Certainly, the infant is not
anesthetized to the point of death in the womb prior to his or her partial delivery
outside of the mother's body. Once so delivered, according to the writings of one
prominent practitioner of this method, Dr. Martin Haskell, the infant is killed by
inserting a pair of sharp curved scissors into the base of the child's skill. The scis-
sors are then spread wide enough to insert a catheter to suction out the contents
of the skull before the head is collapsed and the infant fully delivered outside of
One of the clearest and most compelling guides to the morality of any act is the
physical structure of the act itself. The above description of the partial birth abor-
tion speaks loudly of its own immorality. The partial birth procedure is nothing
other than the direct killing of an innocent human being, an act deemed immoral
and socially unacceptable through time and across continents. Furthermore, a num-
ber of factors make it particularly frightening that this kind of killing could legally
continue â€” let alone be knowingly tolerated or even supported by some â€” in a society
that hopes to have any pretensions about human rights.
First, the partial birth abortion kills the most defenseless among us. By virtue
of their youth, their physical weakness, their legal powerlessness, and in some
cases, their physical disability, the victims of partial birth abortion deserve our most
strenuous protection, not one of the most gruesome forms of death the abortion in-