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Senator Lankford Delivers Floor Speech on Pain-Capable Bill

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today spoke on the Senate floor to advocate for the Pain-Capable Unborn Protection Act, which the Senate voted on earlier this evening. Lankford, along with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joni Ernst (R-IA), introduced the bill in October 2017, which would ban abortion past five months of pregnancy. The bill failed to receive the necessary votes on the motion to proceed by a vote of 51-46. 

Last year, Lankford introduced the Conscience Protection Act to protect healthcare providers, including healthcare professionals, entities, and health insurance plans from government discrimination if they decline to perform an abortion. Lankford has also sponsored or co-sponsored the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act and the Congressional Review Act that reversed President Obama’s Health and Human Services Title X regulation to force states to fund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.


A lot of important things the Senate is taking up right now, obviously the issues of immigration, budget, disaster relief. A lot of pertinent issues that need to be resolved. One of those things that was in the middle of the conversation came up today. And it’s part of a conversation that quite frankly doesn’t come up often in this body, but this seemed like a reasonable piece to be able to come up. It came up to the Senate to open debate on it and failed to be able to get 60 votes to even support beginning to talk about what should be an easy conversation on a hard issue. This issue about children and life. In 1973 when Roe v. Wade passed, the Supreme Court at that time determined children that were viable—and that’s the definition they left out there—children that were viable, there’s a governmental interest in being able to engage with those children. Viability in 1973 is very different than what it is now, decades later. 1973 viable was a much older child. Now we know a lot more. A lot more children survive. Children born at 22 weeks gestation have between a 50  to 60 percent chance of survival now. That was not so in 1973. The rest of the world has caught up to this technology, and their government has acknowledged this issue of a child that has ten fingers and ten toes and a beating heart, they suck their thumb in the womb, they yawn, they stretch, they move—that is a child. 

Now, I understand there’s wide argument about a child at eight weeks that I believe is a child, but others look at it and say it doesn’t look like a child yet. But a child at 20, 22, 24 weeks of gestation, that child even looks like a child when you look at that child on the ultrasound. It’s hard to disagree, especially when children are born at that age prematurely and they survive. And many of us know kids that were born at 22 weeks. The bill that came up today on the Senate floor that had bipartisan support and had a majority support but not 60 Senators’ support to be able to discuss this was a very simple straightforward bill. It asked this one question: will we as Americans continue to allow elective abortions when the child is viable? The Supreme Court said in 1973 the government has a right to be able to step in and protect a viable child. There’s no question that they’re at that age of viability. 

There’s no question that at 20 weeks science shows us they experience pain in the womb and that if surgery happens for a child in utero like that, that child is given an anesthetic to be able to calm their pain during surgery because they have a developing nervous system because they have a beating heart. But this body refused to eve take the issue up and debate. Now there’s no question I’m passionate about the issue of life and about children. And that we should as a culture protect children. But this one confuses me for this body more than any other issue. There are only seven nations in the world that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks. There are only four nations in the world that allow elective abortions after 24 weeks. We are in that elite club. We are in the elite club with three other nations that allow elective abortions that late. Vietnam, North Korea, and China. The worst human rights violators in the world. And there sits the United States in that very elite club. Why are we there? Because we can’t even discuss the possibility that a child is a child and anyone who has ever seen an ultrasound at 24 weeks cannot deny that is a child and that if that child was delivered prematurely they would survive and grow and develop into a person. The only difference between that child at 20 weeks and an adult now is time. 

This issue will continue to come up and it should. Because we as a culture should promote a culture of life and of honoring people. People at their most vulnerable moment and there’s not a more vulnerable moment than that for that child. We’ve got to get out of this club of elective abortions in a group that only allows it of North Korea, China, and Vietnam. When will we wake up to the facts the entire rest of the world sees, all of Europe, all of Africa, all of Central America, all of South America, every one of those countries. When will we wake up to what the rest of the world sees plain? A child is a child. And we need to be able to guard those lives. So, Mr. President, I am sad that today in a bipartisan vote with more than 50 votes to be able to get into it and pass it, we didn’t have enough people who even wanted to discuss it to be able to get on the bill. We’ll bring it up again. For the sake of those children and their future. We’ll bring it up again. And we’ll keep bringing the facts to the argument, not the emotion, but the facts to the argument, and we’ll win people over. Mr. President, I yield the floor.