U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, and Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, voted in favor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36), legislation that would prohibit abortions from being performed on unborn babies who are at or older than 20 weeks post-fertilization. But Senate Democrats blocked the legislation with a 54-42 vote on a motion to proceed to cloture.
“The United States is only one of seven countries that permits abortion after 20 weeks – or five months of pregnancy,” said Inhofe. “This places us in the ranks of China and North Korea who are notorious for their lack of value for human life. Senate Democrats squandered an opportunity to remove us from this list, and instead voted to continue to restrict the rights of the unborn, America’s most vulnerable population. Americans are waking up to the scientific facts and the moral implications regarding abortion practices. It’s time Washington catches up to this reality, and begins to put in place policies that gives a voice to the unborn.”
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would make it illegal for any person to perform, or attempt to perform, an abortion without first making a determination of the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child. If the post-fertilization age of the unborn child is determined to be 20 weeks or greater, an abortion shall not be performed, unless it is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. Inhofe is an original cosponsor of the Senate version, S.1553.
Inhofe spoke on the Senate floor about the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
“By 20 weeks, a woman has reached the halfway point of the pregnancy and has the opportunity to learn the gender of her child,” Inhofe said in his speech. “By 20 weeks, there is conclusive scientific evidence that a baby can feel pain, they can hear sounds, and they can react to sounds. They twist, they kick, they yawn, and they stretch, and some even open their eyes and suck their thumbs. But most importantly, they feel pain.
“The United States is just one of seven countries with populations of more than a million that allows abortions past 20 weeks. Other countries who join ours in this practice are countries like China and North Korea and Vietnam.
“The abortion procedure after 20 weeks is known as late-term abortions.
“It is very unpleasant and very shocking. During the procedure the baby is rotated and the forceps are used to pull the baby’s legs, arms, and shoulders through the birth canal. Once this is done – because the head is too large – an incision is made at the base of the baby’s skull to allow a suction catheter to be inserted to remove the cerebral material – that is the brains – collapsing the skull and allowing the baby to be completely removed.
“When you start to devalue the life of a child just because it hasn’t been born yet, you start devaluing life in general, situations like what happened in Philadelphia are allowed to occur.”
In May of 2013, Kermit Gosnell was convicted of three first-degree murder charges for killing babies who had been born alive at his abortion clinic in Philadelphia. Testimony from the trial indicated he and his staff snipped the necks of more than 100 infants who survived abortion attempts. Viable babies were delivered and then murdered. Gosnell endangered the health and lives of the women who came to his clinic by reusing disposable medical equipment, performing procedures in unsanitary conditions with unsanitary instruments, overdosing them, and causing serious injuries to their bodies. On at least two occasions women died after visiting his clinic.
“Talk about a war on women, this guy is on the front lines,” Inhofe said. “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania turned its back on these women when it never once inspected the clinic in 17 years, despite receiving complaints against Gosnell and being notified that a woman died in the clinic. Pennsylvania Department of State wouldn’t investigate the complaints they received. These kinds of things can happen when human life is considered disposable.
America has been shown 10 videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, showing Planned Parenthood executives and employees across the country detailing the sale of baby parts and how they manipulated and delayed the abortions.
“What we are saying is they delayed an abortion from taking place so the baby could mature and the parts they were using as their specimens would be of greater value to the customers they were selling the baby parts to,” Inhofe said. “The heartless way they talked about these things and the complete disregard for the life of the baby that is being dissected are shocking and sickening.
“It is no wonder over the past decade Americans have been waking up to the scientific facts and the moral implications regarding abortions.”
There was a Gallup poll in 2010 that called pro-life the “new normal” for Americans. But 3 years later, in 2013, the Gallup poll showed that 64 percent of Americans – a majority of Americans by 2 to 1 – supported banning abortions after the first trimester. That is just one of many polls showing this trend to favor life. In the first trimester you are only talking about 12 weeks at that point.
“What is really interesting about these polls is that in each of them women always support these bans at a higher rate than men,” Inhofe said. “As I have learned from my wife and two daughters, only women can really understand what is at stake.
“I had the opportunity to experience firsthand and be there at the time of the birth of my four children and my 12 grandchildren. Life is truly a miracle. It is not just the life of a child but also that of the mother. Thanks to the progress of science it is more evident than ever that abortion ends life. Medical data is now also showing significant risks to women’s health and well-being.”
Forty-six senators signed to support the bill and the House passed a similar bill.
Lankford also filed a motion to begin the parliamentary process, known as Rule 14, to force a vote in the Senate on the recently House-passed Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015 (HR 3134), a bill that would redirect taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood to community health centers for one year while the organization is under investigation. Lankford introduced a Senate companion bill (S.1836) to the Defund Planned Parenthood Act on July 22. Lankford also joined Senators Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, on July 29 to introduce a bill to permanently redirect Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding to community health centers. The bill failed in the Senate on August 3 due to a Democrat filibuster.
“We know at 20 weeks, that a child can respond to different stimuli. That child feels pain,” said Lankford.
The first essential requirement for pain is the presence of sensory receptors, which science confirms is first developed around the mouth at five weeks of pregnancy. Fetal pain can be measured by the way they recoil from painful stimuli and the increase in stress hormones when they are hurt. In addition, anesthesia is used in fetal surgeries and special care is given to reduce the pain of premature infants in the NICU (neonatal intensive-care unit).
“There are a lot of important things we’re dealing with, with budget, with Iran nuclear negotiations, but can we not stop for a moment and say our nation will guard our most vulnerable? Can we not protect our children? I think we can do both,” Lankford said.
Lankford told the story of a little girl named Violet. She was born at 14 ounces, and is now a year old.
“At 14 ounces and at five months of gestation, that little girl is doing great,” Lankford said. “Yet in many places in our country, not all, but in many places in our country, that child can still be executed in the womb and no one would bat an eye…When a child can feel pain, when a child is viable, even the Supreme Court from 1973 would look at this time period and say that’s viability. At that moment, should we as a nation step up and protect children?
“…for some reason, our nation has said that when you can see that child, we will do everything we can do to protect them, but when you can’t see them, we are okay with them being destroyed. Well, that’s not who we are as a nation. It’s not a matter of whether you can see them or not. It’s not a matter of how tall they are, to say they’ve got to be a certain height before we’ll consider them alive. That’s a living child. This bill does something that we would consider very noncontroversial. When a child can experience pain, shouldn’t we protect the life of that child?”