Rep. Blackburn: ‘Constitution Does Not Put a Qualifier on Life’

By Penny Starr | July 16, 2014 | 6:09 AM EDT

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) holds up an ultrasound image of her unborn grandson at a Senate Judiciary hearing on a bill to end all restrictions on abortion on July 15, 2014 on Capitol Hill. ( Starr)

( – Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) used an ultrasound image of her own grandson to make a point about the sanctity of life during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on pro-abortion legislation that she opposes.

"Our Constitution does not put a qualifier on life," she said on Tuesday, holding up a large, 3-D ultrasound image of her grandson:

"And I have to tell you how exciting it was for me to see this ultrasound. I was thrilled," Blackburn said. "I could tell...three months before he was born, he had my eyes and nose. Now, for a grandmother, that's a really big deal. I could see his hands. I could see his arms. And I could see him peacefully resting in his mother's womb. That's the wonder of science. That is life!

"Our Constitution does not put a qualifier on life. The pursuit of life, liberty -- pursuit of happiness. Those protections -- the right to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, (exist) even in the mother's womb," she said, referring to the famous words in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence.

"I urge the committee to reconsider this legislation," Blackburn said.

The bill, the Women’s Health Protection Act (S.1696), would block all restrictions on abortion. It includes sweeping federal authority to preempt "any provision enacted by a state or subdivision."

“The legislation would jeopardize and nullify hundreds of laws -- laws that protect both mothers and their unborn children,” Blackburn said in her prepared remarks. "Furthermore, this legislation sets a dangerous precedent because it would place unconstitutional limits on a state’s ability to assure the safety of medical facilities."

But Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), who along with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) cosponsored the bill, said the legislation would ensure access to abortion to every woman who wants one.

“The Women’s Health Protection Act would ensure that every woman -- no matter where she lives —- has access to safe, quality reproductive care without interference from politicians,” Baldwin said.

“Specifically, our bill would outlaw any mandate or regulation that does not significantly advance women’s health or the safety of abortion services. Our legislation also protects women by invalidating measures that make abortion services more difficult to access and restrictions on the provision of abortion services that are not imposed on any other medical procedures.”

But Blackburn said the name of the bill is misleading.

“I find it so curious that this legislation is termed ‘The Women’s Health Protection Act,’" she said. “In my opinion it would be more accurately titled the ‘Removal of Existing Protections and Safety Measures for Women Undergoing Abortion Act.’”