The U.S. House passed the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act on May 13 with U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma, voting for the bill.
“I believe that all human life is sacred and begins at conception,” Bridenstine said. “ I am very pleased to help pass this legislation, the first law protecting human life before birth. Unborn children should be welcomed in life and protected by law. As a nation that values every individual’s right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, we should always choose on the side of life.”
Bridenstine said medical evidence proves that babies feel pain earlier than five months after conception. The “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” prohibits elective abortions after 20 weeks, with exceptions to save the life of the mother and in cases of rape or incest. The bill also provides added protection for infants born alive and empowers women to take legal action if the law is not followed.
Significantly, this legislation was passed on the second anniversary of the conviction of Kermit Gosnell for killing babies born alive in late-term abortions. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that this law will save the lives of over 2,750 babies annually.
Bridenstine responded after a report criticizing him was published in the liberal Tulsa World about a trip he took to Azerbijan.
Two years ago, Bridenstine and other members of Congress were invited to participate in a conference in Baku, Azerbaijan, that focused on the U.S.-Azerbaijan relationship.
“The House Committee on Ethics approved my travel request in writing prior to the trip, as is required for all House Members’ travel,” Bridenstine said. “Oklahoma has an interest in Azerbaijan. Oklahoma’s National Guard has an ongoing, cooperative interaction with Azerbaijan’s armed forces in the federally sponsored State Partnership Program, and Oklahoma State University sends faculty to Azerbaijan to assist with agricultural development.”
Bridenstine said that from a U.S. national security standpoint, Azerbaijan is uniquely positioned to diminish the effectiveness of Russia’s territorial ambitions.
“Because of Oklahoma’s ties to Azerbaijan and its geopolitical significance, I welcomed the opportunity to travel to Baku,” Bridenstine said. “The Baku conference improved my understanding of the region’s geopolitical situation.”
On January 29, 2015, Bridenstine received a letter from the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) notifying him that the trip to Azerbaijan, although previously fully approved by the House Committee on Ethics, was the subject of an OCE review.
Bridenstine cooperated with the OCE’s information requests.
“I also made good faith efforts to comply with House Ethics gift rules following the trip,” he said
During the trip, he was given two rugs. According to a Washington Post report, “Only one lawmaker, Bridenstine, disclosed the rugs on his financial forms. He had them appraised: the smaller rug at $2,500 and the larger at $3,500. In a July 2013 letter to the Ethics Committee, he said he wanted to donate the larger rug to the House Clerk’s Office. Bridenstine was the only lawmaker to offer to pay for the rugs out of his own pocket, telling the committee that he would like to purchase the smaller rug ‘at fair market value.’”
“Having sought advice from the Committee on Ethics, I determined the best course of action was to return the rugs and I did so,” Bridenstine said. “I also received a porcelain tea set which was valued at $87, well under the Foreign Gifts Disclosure Act rules, and an educational book and four local traditional music CDs.”
The Tulsa World story stops just short of accusing Bridenstine of ethical wrongdoing or criminal actions.