Last April, a botched partial-birth abortion resulted in the birth of a little girl in Cincinnati. She lived for three hours. It was reported that an emergency-room technician rocked and sang to her until she died. Afterward, the staff grieved so deeply that several members wound up spending hours in counseling, trying to get over the emotional trauma of the incident. One astute person observed that the worst part of the tragedy was that no laws were broken.

Meanwhile, the debate over partial-birth abortion continues in Washington. Last year, the Senate passed a ban of the procedure, but came up three votes short of overriding the president's veto. (President Clinton also vetoed similar bills in 1996 and 1997.) We must continue to raise this issue until the president does the right thing by allowing the procedure to be banned from our land.

Partial-birth abortion is a method in which the abortion doctor partially delivers a living fetus before violently killing the fetus and completing the delivery. This procedure will be performed hundreds of times this month throughout America as a state-sanctioned form of murder.

The Jewish writer Sandi Merle describes it this way: “This procedure is not abortion. It is pre-term delivery followed by an act of destruction leading to a painful death. It's about leaving no fingerprints when committing a murder of convenience. It is infanticide, clearly and simply, and it must be stopped.” I agree, and this is why I will once again vote to end partial-birth abortion the next time it comes to the Senate floor.

When we talk about partial-birth abortion, we are talking about a cruel and shameless procedure which robs us of our humanity. It is not true that the anesthesia kills the child before removal from the womb. In fact, the baby experiences extraordinary pain when undergoing the “operation” — a deceptive euphemism for what actually takes place.

Nor is this brutality reserved only for the most extreme circumstances. According to the executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, the “vast majority” of partial-birth abortions are performed in the fifth and sixth months of pregnancy — on healthy babies and healthy mothers.

I appeal to all people of conscience who recognize the suffering borne by these brutally killed babies: Please do not to turn your heads. Help reverse this course of destruction, no matter the political consequences.

The facts speak for themselves. Bluntly put, partial-birth abortion involves the death of a child in a brutal fashion, and it is condoned by the current president of the United States.

Our institutionalized indifference to the extraordinary suffering of our most vulnerable citizens makes me wonder what has happened to our collective conscience as a nation. Have we grown so callous that we can knowingly permit our very weakest children to die a death we would never force on any adult, no matter how criminal?

Perhaps it is because we have become so acclimated to our “culture of death” that so many look the other way rather than stand firm against such horror. After all, there's only so much murder, mayhem and immorality we can face head-on before our defenses kick in and we start blocking out all bad news.

As Peggy Noonan observed recently in The Wall Street Journal, “people no longer say, ‘If you don't like it, change the channel.’ They now realize something they didn't realize 10 years ago: There is no channel to change to.”

Perhaps our violent environment has dulled our consciences and worn us down to the point where it is no longer politically expedient to protest the obscene suffering of infants. This would explain why so many of the country's leaders continue to tolerate partial-birth abortion. I hope this isn't so.

I appeal to all people of conscience who recognize the suffering borne by these brutally killed babies: Please do not to turn your heads. Help reverse this course of destruction, no matter the political consequences.

I hope we will continue to let ourselves be troubled by the event in Cincinnati. We should declare that what happened to this little girl was simply wrong, and cannot be rationalized. We should reject this culture of death which tolerates children dying violent and unnatural deaths. The president should enact a partial-birth abortion ban, and help mercy and goodness triumph over the violence and destruction stalking our nation's soul.

U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback is a Republican from Kansas.