01.20.16

Senator Lankford Advocates for Unborn Life, Applauds Pro-Life Activists on Senate Floor

Lankford: “How long will we deny the clear science here?”

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today delivered a floor speech on the Senate floor about the sanctity of unborn life, the pro-life movement, and the upcoming March for Life on Friday.  

Transcript:

Thank you, Mr. President. It's a basic American value: Families. Americans are kind of particular about our families. We love our families and we love our kids. It has been one of the struggles we’ve had as a nation, because we’ve seen this collapse of the American family, of this basic value that we see that unit struggling. Families begin, a husband and a wife, and that incredible moment when a lady looks at a pregnancy test and sees that little line and realizes there's a baby on the way.

Forty-three years ago, as a country, there was a decision made by the supreme court— that decision forever changed the structure our families, forever changed a valuing within the country because, you see, the value shifted 43 years ago and it changed from “there’s a baby on the way” to “that family gets to choose if that’s a baby or not." To literally be able to say, based on the preference of the mom, it’s tissue or it's a baby. You should handle those two things very, very different. Now, I can distinctly remember in my family 19 years ago, plus, now when we saw that little line, and we started getting a house ready and started getting things organized and how to get our finances in order and everything ready to go because there is a baby on the way. Because in those first moments, before my wife could even feel that she was pregnant, we found out that she was. And that was a child coming to our family. She has a name now. Her name is Hannah. And the first of our two daughters, between Hannah and Jordan, we understand full well how things started and what things were like in those earliest days.

It’s remarkable to me that so much of the conversation, now, circles around preference, because if at that moment we should know if we don’t do something now, to actually reach into the womb, take that child out the womb, what Planned Parenthood and other folks would say, just to remove the tissue. That if something wasn’t done from that moment an, there was a baby coming. A baby that would look up in our face and smile and would have a name. Americans have lost track of this basic thing. That's not tissue in the womb. When that pregnancy test comes up positive, that's a baby. Regardless of the preference of any individual, that's a baby on the way. Cells are dividing. For many they don’t find out for maybe a couple of months even and they begin to figure out something is really changing here and they do a quick test and sometimes by the time they do the test there’s a beating heart.

They look in with a sonogram and count ten fingers, ten toes. If you were to reach in and actually do a DNA test, you would find out that lump of issue that is in there is not tissue. It has DNA. Different than the mom, different than the dad. That's a child. And it's a unique life. And that life is not determined based on preference. That life is determined based on that dividing cells child with ten fingers and toes. I really can’t think of anything else we have in America where anyone can just say, based on their preference, I choose for that to be a life or I choose that not to be a life— based on my preference. I can’t just look at this desk and say, I choose to call that to be a life. We know that life has basic criteria. It is dividing cells, can function on its own, can reproduce. It is life. We know what life is. And we can't casually say one thing is life and one thing is not. Just like we casually don’t just try to fight off the destruction of tissue in other ways.

I always smile when I hear some folks on the other side of this argument that will say they want abortion to be safe, legal, and rare. I hear it all the time. Safe, legal, and rare. I always ask the question when someone says that to me, why rare? I understand safe and legal. Why would you care if it is rare? If it is just tissue, why does it matter if you remove it? No one has a big national movement to fight off individuals from taking off warts off their hands because everyone knows if you have a wart on your hand, it is just tissue and no one cares if you take that off. And they understand that really is your body. It is a wart on your hand and it doesn’t look good so take it off. Everyone is fine with that. But for some reason there is a push to say safe, legal, and rare when it comes to abortion. Because I believe inherently even the individuals that say safe, legal, and rare, they understand it is not just tissue or you wouldn't say it had to be rare. You understand it is an incredibly painful, difficult decision that a mom is making. Because she knows in her gut that's not tissue. That's a child.

A child that would one day have a name and a smile. That's a child. In China, the government gets to decide whether it is just tissue or a child. Because the government will step in and say, if you have a second child, you can't have that. You have to destroy the second child. Now, in their benevolence, China has shifted to say you can have up to two children in certain areas, in certain regions, but if you have a third one, you have to destroy that child. But in America, for whatever reason, we have individuals with the freedom to be able to say if I prefer for this not to be child and suddenly somehow our culture says okay, you can pick. The Supreme Court in 1973 looked at this issue and they argued a lot about viability or what they call quickening.

This conversation about viability really circled around could states actually make laws protecting the lives of children once they reach viability. Now, in 1973, viability was very different than what it is today. There are many children that are born, if you'll go to NICU units, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, that you'll go and you'll find a very large area in most hospitals. You ought to go by and visit and walk into NICU area. Because you'll find many rooms and many beds there where decades ago that wasn't true, because children at 22 weeks and 24 weeks didn't survive before. And now a higher and higher percentage are. You see, there are children that are in Oklahoma City right now in NICU that weigh just a tiny bit more than two iPhones. That's their weight when they're born. Just a tiny bit more than two iPhones in weight.

And yet they're growing up to be healthy, productive kids. They're children. We're getting better in NICU as well, learning how to be able to provide oxygen so their lungs develop. We're getting better at NICU as I visited some of the physicians at O.U. Children's Hospital over the Christmas break and visited with some of the physicians there in the NICU and say, “What have we learned, what have we gained? SI this getting better?”

And they talked about how we feed different now than we used to feed decades ago because in the NICU we understand how they’re developing and they receive food and we want their digestive system to develop. Things are very different now in science and it's forcing the country to rethink an issue again -- when is a child a child? And in our basic American values, should we stand up for them? I believe we should. And I'm amazed at the number of moms that if they will get a sonogram and see the picture of their child in their womb, they understand clearly that's not tissue. That's a face looking back at me. That's fingers and toes that I can count. There's a beating heart there. That's not random tissue.

In fact, I don't know if you knew this, Mr. President, but they can now do 3D-sonograms and then send the sonogram to a 3D printer and actually print out a model of what the child looks like in the womb in that exact position. Now, not only is that cool as a parent, to be able to say I can actually hold a model of what my child looks like right now at 20 weeks of development, or 28 weeks of development and to be able to see and look at their face, but it's revolutionary for physicians that at 20 weeks are reaching into the womb, giving anesthetic to the child and they can actually see exactly what the imperfections are so when they go in and do surgery, they can practice on the outside before they reach into the inside.

The technology continues to advance. And I say to my colleagues, at what point will our law catch up with our science? How long will we deny the clear science here? And understand that's a child? I think in the decades ahead, our nation will catch up to the science and we'll look back on a season in our country when we ignored the obvious. When a pregnancy test says "positive" that's not positive for tissue, that's positive for a baby.

Mr. President, I also want to affirm the thousands and thousands of volunteers around the country, many of them coming this week to the March for life, that serve every single week in crisis pregnancy centers around the country, that lovingly walk with moms through some of the most difficult days of their life. As they make hard decisions. And with great compassion, they walk them through a tough pregnancy and then they're with them in the days after delivery, bringing diapers to them, bringing formula to them, helping them in those early moments. Thousands of volunteers around the country do that every single week. Good for them. Good for our country. Good for our value for life. I'm always proud when Americans stand up for other Americans no matter how weak they are. With that, Mr. President, I yield back.

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