WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) delivered a speech on the Senate floor yesterday in anticipation of today’s vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (HR36) to protect the unborn at five months in the womb. Lankford called for the Senate to consider HR36 during a floor speech in July. This is the fourth speech Lankford has given on the floor this Congress to protect the life of the unborn.
Below is the transcript from the speech:
“Mr. President, we as a nation we treat bugs in a very unique way. We have a little bug called the American Burrowing Beetle. The American Burring Beetle is in many areas of the country, all over Oklahoma. In southeastern Oklahoma, a lot of areas for commercial construction have to wait through the early part of the spring because in the springtime the American Burrowing Beetle lays its eggs and those eggs multiple underground and little and little bugs start crawling up. The folks from Fish and Wildlife Service tell us not to step on those bugs because they possibly could be threatened. Construction needs to stop during the springtime so the Earth is not disturbed during that time period because they don’t want to disturb the earth because those eggs might be damaged and we’ll have fewer of the American Burrowing Beetle.
Now, I bring that up not because I am so enamored with that bug, but I bring that up because our nation has a history of protecting life, life where every it may be — whether it’s a burring beetle in southeastern Oklahoma or whether it’s a child
For some strange reason in this room, the conversation tends to go more towards the American Burrowing Beetle and their eggs and protecting that bug than it is about protecting children. So I bring up today something that I really don’t think should be that controversial. What are we going to do with children who can feel and experience pain? Would we as a nation guard children? That would be a pretty straightforward thing, I would say.
In 1973, the Supreme Court struggled with how to define life and this whole conversation that the Supreme Court had in a closed door as they struggled with the decision we now know as Roe vs. Wade. In January of 1973, after struggling behind closed doors, the Supreme Court came out with a decision that was brand new to American law, coming actually from common law — that is, viability. What used to be in the past in common law where they would discuss quickening, when a child could kick and move, they would now consider this child, a child worthy of protection. They asked the question, when is it possible for a fetus to be alive?
In January of 1973, they said they would have to leave that up to medical technology of when that child would be viable. Bring that up to fast-afford forward to today. Let’s talk about when that child is considered viable. Let’s talk about what happens now. We know at 20 weeks that child can respond to different stimuli. That child feels pain. That child can respond to normal things that are happening around it. I can distinctly remember for both of my daughters for my wife and I going in at 20 weeks to be able to look at the sonogram, because 20 weeks was the first time the doctor could say, with certainty, whether we’re going to have a boy or a girl and we could see the health of now that I know, my two daughters. That was a day for us to be to go in and see the sonogram and know it’s a girl and be able to go in and watch them move around in the womb, to dream about what their name would be and what they would look like.
Now my one daughter is in college, one daughter is in high school, but the first time I ever laid eyes on them, they were 20 weeks old. When we got a peek into the womb with a sonogram. This bill asks a simple question, this bill that deals with pain-capable. The Pain-Capable Bill asks the question, is the child alive at five months? When the baby can kick, suck its thumb, stretch, yawn, make faces, when medical science tells us that it can experience pain, is that child alive? Recently, ‘The New York Times’ did a report studying this one issue about children that are born extremely early. At this exact time we’re discussing right now, how many of the children that are born even that early make it?
‘The New York Times’ latest study said 25 percent of them plus make it. Well let me tell you about one of them. Her name is Violet. She is the daughter of a friend of mine. And she’s a pretty amazing young lady. She was born at this exact age we’re discussing, and she was born, Mr. President, at 14 ounces. 14 ounces. She would fit into your hand, she was less than a pound. And that tiny little girl that had such a tough start is a year old now, and she’s not fourteen ounces, she is fifteen pounds, and thanks for asking, she’s doing great. She is healthy and she’s strong and she’s beautiful and you ought to see her beautiful face with a bow on the top of her head. She’s a sparkling little girl. But she was born at fourteen ounces. I’m asking our nation to think about this again.
The discussion in 1973 about viability needs to catch up to the science of today. At 14 ounces and at five months of gestation, that little girl is doing great. Yet in many places in our country, not all, but in many places in our country, that child can still be executed in the womb and no one would bat an eye. Mr. President, this is a conversation our nation needs to have, but I can’t imagine that it would be controversial to just make a simple statement. When a child can feel pain, when a child is viable, even the Supreme Court from 1973 would look at this time period and say that’s viability. At that moment, should we as a nation step up and protect children?
This shouldn’t be about whether the child can feel pain—we know that child can feel pain. It’s not even about viability. We know that child’s viable, in fact I know her name. It’s about, will our laws catch up to our morals and to our science. Late-term abortions in many areas of our country are already illegal. Let’s address this. As a people and as a nation I’m asking a simple thing, when we know that a child can feel pain, when we know that they’re viable, let’s treat them as a child. Let’s honor that child as alive and let’s say we don’t do abortions when we know that child is viable.
It’s a straightforward issue that I would hope wouldn’t be controversial. This is not about women’s health. This is about the health of little boys and little girls who need our nation to stand with them. Mr. President, this bill we need to pass. A lot of important things we’re dealing with, with budget, with Iran nuclear negotiations, but can we not stop for a moment and say our nation will guard our most vulnerable? Can we not protect our children? I think we can do both. With that I yield back.”