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Senator Lankford Joins Senators Graham, Ernst to Introduce Five-Month Abortion Ban

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WASHINGTON, DC – During a press conference today, Senator James Lankford (R-OK), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (S.1922), a bill to ban abortion past five months of pregnancy. On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives passed the same legislation by a vote of 237-189. If the Senate passes this bill, the President has committed to sign the legislation into law.

“The United States is one of only seven countries, including North Korea, that allows abortion at five months of pregnancy,” said Lankford. “I applaud the House for passing this bill; it is now time for the Senate to act on this. There are children alive, healthy, and growing today who were born prematurely at five months pregnancy. We should not allow elective abortions past five months of pregnancy, especially when science shows that unborn babies feel pain at this stage.”

Medical practice dictates that anesthesia is administered directly to an unborn child in second-trimester fetal surgery. At the age of 20 weeks post-fertilization, scientific research tells us an unborn child experiences significant nerve development and can feel pain. The unborn child shows physical, chemical, brain and stress responses demonstrating pain at this stage of development. Advances in modern medicine help babies born at 20, 21 and 22 weeks post-fertilization survive outside the womb. Ultrasounds show unborn babies at 20 weeks sucking their thumb, yawning, stretching and making faces. A NIH-funded study of infants delivered at 20-22 weeks post-fertilization and who received active treatment observes increasing rates of survival without any neurological impairment. Yet, three-fourths of those delivered at 20 weeks post-fertilization still received no active care.

The United States is one of only seven countries that allows on-demand abortions past five months. The other six are North Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada, and the Netherlands. According to a January poll, a majority of Americans support banning abortions after five months of pregnancy. Similar legislation has passed in 20 states, including Oklahoma.

“There are only seven countries that allow wholesale abortions at the 20-week period, including China and North Korea. The United States should not be in that club,” said Graham, the lead sponsor of the bill.  “I don’t believe abortion, five months into pregnancy, makes us a better nation. America is at her best when she’s standing up for the least among us and the sooner we pass this legislation into law, the better. We are on the right side of history.”

“At five month gestational age, babies have 10 fingers and 10 toes, they can yawn, stretch, make faces – and they can feel pain,” said Ernst. “It’s unconscionable that the United States is currently one of only 7 countries in the world that allows abortions after five months; we are currently in the same company of China and North Korea. I’m fighting for this legislation in honor of my friend and fellow Iowan, Micah Pickering, an incredible 5-year-old who was born prematurely, at five months gestation. This legislation could protect up to 10,000 lives like Micah’s every year by preventing abortions after about 5 months of development, and it is absolutely critical that the Senate take up this legislation to protect our most vulnerable.”

The Senators were joined at the press conference by representatives of organizations which strongly support the legislation, including the National Right to Life Committee, Susan B. Anthony List, Family Research Council, Americans United for Life, and Concerned Women for America.