Lankford Declares Every Child is Valuable Ahead of Democrat’s Radical Abortion Bill
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WASHINGTON, DC – Following the unprecedented leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization last week, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today strongly opposed the so-called “Women’s Health Protection Act,” which he has said would be more accurately described as a bill to promote unlimited abortions on demand until birth, when the bill came once again to the floor for a vote.
The bill would undo all existing state protections for unborn life and prevents future federal, state and local limits on abortion. It would force every state to be a late-term abortion state. It also carves out long-standing protections for religious freedom. Lankford raised his intense opposition to the bill on the Senate floor. The bill failed in a vote of 49 to 51.
Lankford previously voted against basically this same bill in February when he also addressed the Senate about why he stands for life.
Lankford has been a pro-life advocate and pro-parent advocate for his entire career, ensuring that babies, pregnant mothers and parents are supported. Lankford has fought to protect life at every stage, make adoption more affordable, expand the child tax credit to the unborn, provide food assistance and healthcare to needy families, fund maternal and infant health programs, and incentivize giving so that local nonprofits can more easily assist those in need.
Lankford pushed back on the Biden Administration’s rule to allow taxpayer-funded abortions. He successfully secured language to save the long-standing Hyde and Weldon Amendments, which prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions and abortion-related discrimination against health care workers, including insurers.
Ahead of oral argument in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization before the US Supreme Court, Lankford met with Students for Life during a prayer vigil. Lankford gave a moving speech on the Senate floor recognizing the significance of Dobbs in the fight for life. He joined an amicus brief signed by more than 220 Members of Congress supporting the state of Mississippi in Dobbs.
Lankford published an op-ed ahead of Dobbs highlighting the pivotal moment the case presents for protecting the right to life in the nation. Lankford released two episodes of a four-part series on his podcast, The Breakdown with James Lankford, highlighting the science behind life in the womb and the stories behind the pro-life movement.
Last week a draft opinion was leaked out of the Supreme Court, which never happens, literally has not ever happened—until now. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court called it a betrayal of the court. That leak sparked protests all over the nation and in Washington, DC, but not because two centuries of protocol in the Supreme Court was violated. It was because the court dared to say that when the Supreme Court ruled in 1973 on Roe v. Wade, it made a mistake.
In the draft opinion that was released, it stated that the opinion of 1973 exceeded the constitutional boundaries. For 200 years the legislatures determined when life began. But in 1973, the Court determined that states cannot protect its youngest citizens of their state and created a new standard called viability, a standard that had no statement in the Constitution and no statement in federal law. They literally created the viability standard on the spot.
The draft opinion from February of this year states that that should not have been done in 1973 and that the people in each state, in the legislatures, should determine when life begins, and they should have that decision based in law. Apparently, this body, including the Democratic majority, agrees at least with the basic finding of the Court’s draft decision because the Court says these issues should be settled in legislative branches, not in the Court. And so today, a week after that draft opinion is out, Senator Schumer has called up a bill to actually vote on Roe v. Wade, and not just vote on Roe v. Wade; vote on a very simple decision: when does life begin?
The real question that comes up is: when is that child a child? Because in the most simple of questions, for those two little ones, which I know, only a short time before would have been in the womb. So the simple question that this body is dealing with today is pretty straightforward: who gets to decide whether she lives or dies? Who gets to pick that?
I think she should live.
And for that simple statement that I believe she should have a chance at life, I have been called a totalitarian extremist because I believe her life is valuable. What kind of upside down world do we live in when people who believe children are valuable are the extremists? Are the radicals? Are the totalitarians?
The day before Mother’s Day the headquarters for Concerned Women for America, a pro-life organization who speaks up for the millions of women who believe children are valuable, was attacked and vandalized. On Mother’s Day—Mother’s Day—just let that soak in for a minute. On Mother’s Day, someone tried to burn down a pregnancy resource center in Wisconsin that provides baby formula, baby clothing, and diapers to new moms and provides ultrasounds to expectant moms. That facility, they attempted to burn down, and then they spray-painted on the wall outside the building, ‘If abortions aren’t safe, then you aren’t either.’
Instead of that being condemned by the media, a journalist from Rewire saw the news story on the attack in Wisconsin and immediately tweeted out, ‘More of this. May these people never know a moment of peace or safety until they rot in the ground.’ Also on Mother’s Day, protesters showed up at Catholic churches around the country to protest the Catholic Church’s stand for this little girl and for life. Protesters also showed up over and over in the last week at the justices’ homes to chant on bullhorns and to threaten the justices because they dare to follow the Constitution.
A CNN commentator tweeted out, ‘Concrete barriers being put up around the Supreme Court. Now we just need to lock them in there and keep them away from us. Cut off their internet access so they can’t send us any more opinions based on pro-rape judicial theory from the 1600s.’
I’ve heard it all week—all week long on this floor, tweeted out by journalists, tweeted out by the activists. The simple statements like this: equity, privacy rights, bodily autonomy, health care decisions, freedom to choose, reproductive rights, basic civil rights. All those are euphemisms for she dies.
Why are people so passionate about this? Because it’s not just a person in this conversation. She’s in this conversation. Her future, her opportunities—that’s what this conversation is about. And for that, I’m being called a radical extremist because I believe she’s valuable.
Last weekend when I was at home I ran into someone just out and about. He wanted to talk to me about this issue about life, he was very passionate about the freedom to be able to take her life just hours before she’s born. In that conversation, as we got back-and-forth on it, I asked him very simply, you know, its federal law right now that we protect turtle eggs. Turtles, if you destroy a turtle egg, it is a federal offense with a very big fine. If you destroy an eagle egg, it’s a very big offense with a federal fine. Do you find that odd? And I’m just in dialogue with this person. Do you find that odd that in federal law we protect an eagle egg, acknowledging that’s an eagle inside that egg and we protect a turtle egg, saying we acknowledge that’s a turtle inside that egg but we allow the destruction but we allow the destruction of children. And to my shock they responded, well turtles and eagles are endangered, so they should be protected. And I’m called the extremist because I happen to believe she’s precious, and just because there are billions of other humans around, I don’t think she’s disposable.
What are we really talking about? We’re talking about the right for people to be able to speak out to their elected officials in every state and for each state legislature to decide on the issue of life. That’s what we’re talking about. If the draft opinion ends up being the final opinion from the court, it doesn’t end abortion in America. It pushes it back out to every state and every legislative branch, including this one, to be able to have a state-by-state and a national dialogue on the simple question, ‘when does life begin?’
Some people will say, at conception, as I do—and quite frankly as science also agrees with. That’s cell division, that’s unique DNA. all the makeups of her life and of my life and every other person in this room’s life was there at cell division and conception in the earliest days. Every single cell in a woman’s body is exactly the same. Has the same DNA in it except for those cells. Those cells are different. They have different DNA in them. Why are they different DNA in those particular cells than every other cell in a mom’s body? Because that’s a different body that’s there, that’s why. Some people believe that life begins at conception. Some believe at heartbeat. Some people believe at 15 weeks, as the Mississippi law is challenging. Some people believe at viability. Others at birth. Why don’t we have that conversation? Why don’t we have that dialogue?
Because, quite frankly, as I think about life and I look at this baby and I look at this baby, for some reason there’s a whole bunch of people that say that baby is alive and that baby is tissue and not alive. Some people would look at this baby and this baby and would say, totally different, completely different. This baby is alive and needs to be protected, and that baby is just tissue. Which is so strange to me because that baby and that baby look a lot alike to me. I can count fingers on both.
In fact, as funny as it is, they’re both in the same position, which by the way, for my wife and I, we call this the touchdown position, how babies sleep with their hands up over their heads—and lots of babies do that, including mine did. This baby is in the touchdown position and sleeping. Look, this one is, too. What’s the difference between these two? I don’t see this as alive and tissue. That looks a lot like a baby to me. And for that I’m called the extremist and the radical. This baby sucks their thumb in the womb, responds to their mom’s voice, feels pain, has unique fingerprints, has unique DNA, kicks around like crazy. What’s the difference between those two? Time. That’s it. That’s the only difference—just time.
So what’s been brought to the floor today? What’s been brought to the floor today is this bill. This bill, the Woman’s Health Protection Act of 2022. Interestingly enough, that’s the last time this bill uses the word woman. It doesn’t use the word woman any time after the title. It stops after that, I find that interesting. Let me talk you through a couple of things that are in this bill.
Section 2 of the bill defines abortion services and details it out but also has a nice little note that’s tucked into the definition here. It defines viability. It says the term viability means the point in a pregnancy at which in the good faith and medical judgment of the treating health care provider, based on the particular facts of the case before the health care provider there’s a reasonable likelihood of sustained fetal survival outside the uterus with or without artificial support. Interestingly enough, it just basically says, the doctor that’s there, that’s providing the abortion, can determine when the child is viable or not viable. We all get the joke on this. We know what this really means. This bill is not about viability. This bill is about whatever age at whatever time anyone wants to perform an abortion at any moment.
In my state, we’re a state that has medical marijuana laws. They say it’s not recreational marijuana. It’s medical marijuana. You have to have a medical prescription from a doctor to be able to get it. So you know how you get it? The medical marijuana place actually has a doctor that you can just call that will write a scrip to you, that will write it for no matter what. You can say my left toe hurts every other Thursday, and they would say great, that’s a medical condition, and you get the scrip for it. So we get the joke.
If the person who’s actually selling the product is the one who’s actually prescribing it that means you can do it at any point and this bill itself protects that individual saying they can define viability and they’re protected in their definition of it. So this bill is not about protecting children prior to viability. This bill is about aborting at every single stage of pregnancy, all the way up to the end. No matter how late that abortion is.
The bill doesn’t just stop there. Not only is there no limit to restriction or restriction on abortion, and it gives a statutory right to abortion, even though 71% of Americans believe there should be some limits to abortion, this bill says, no, there can’t be. And then it reaches into every state and abolishes any restrictions that may be on abortion at all, in any state. For instance, if a state says there has to be more information given to the woman, like an ultrasound, or just give information about this child, it abolishes that. So a state cannot inform the mom before the abortion. That’s prohibited.
It also abolishes any other restriction on telemedicine. It abolishes any requirement any state has on safety or healthy. It used to be, I heard the term from the pro-abortion crowd, safe, legal, and rare. This strips away the safe term on it, and just says every restriction that’s out there on safety has to be stripped away. No state can put a restriction out there on this. It takes away any right of any state to actually restrict abortions being carried out on minors without parental consent. It strips away any kind of waiting period laws. And it also strips away religious exemptions.
What does that mean? If a doctor or physician says I don’t want to carry out an abortion, I believe that’s really a child right there, not just a lump of tissue, that doctor says for their conscience’s sake. For this bill, I’m sorry your conscience doesn’t matter anymore. This strips away all conscience protections. In fact, what’s interesting is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed in 1993 and it’s never ever been exempted until this bill. This bill literally reaches into the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and says your religious conscience doesn’t matter. It’s an abortion, get over it. That’s what this bill says.
This is not some simple codifying Roe bill. This is telling the nation I’m sorry, you may think that little girl is a little girl and is valuable. We think she’s disposable. No. Pro-life members here like myself have fought to make adoption more affordable, expand the child tax credit for the unborn, continue to provide assistance, food, health care to needy families, maternal health. We should all be working to support women in very difficult days—but she matters in this conversation. We can’t lose track of that. Mother Teresa once made the comment ‘if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?’ You may say well that’s Mother Teresa’s opinion that that child is a child. I would also tell you it’s Joe Biden’s as well.
Joe Biden also made the statement just last week, ‘The Dobbs decision is about the ability to abort a child.’ To abort a child was President Biden’s statement. I agree. The conversation right now on the floor is what’s her future. What happens next? It will decide a lot. I can assure you I’m going to speak out the rights for every single child, and we’ll declare again, every child is valuable. If people call me a radical for believing children are valuable, so be it. But I think it tells us a lot about our culture that I’m the radical one because I believe she has a hope and a future.