Editor’s note. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) spoke on the House floor yesterday in favor of H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, also referred to as Micah’s Law.
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting a young boy named Micah Pickering. He was cute and shy. And, as young boys often are, he’d give me a high-five, play around, and run where everybody had to catch him. Now, he gave me this bracelet. You see it says, ‘Miracles for Micah.’
You know what? He is a miracle, and he is strong. He was born prematurely at only 20 weeks. He spent the first 128 days of his life in a neonatal intensive care unit. Though he could fit in the palm of your hand, his parents couldn’t hold him at first. His skin was so sensitive; the slightest touch could cause little Micah intense pain.
It didn’t matter where he was, if he was in that intensive care unit or if he was still waiting for that expected date to be born, he could feel, and he wanted to live.
The fact is, children at 20 weeks feel pain. Science increasingly shows it. The European Journal of Anesthesiology describes how it is ‘critical’ to administer anesthesia during fetal surgery procedures. You know, a standard text on human development, Patten’s Foundations of Embryology, shows how the basics of the nervous system are formed by week four. Doctor Ronald Brusseau of Boston’s Children’s Hospital wrote that by week 18, children have developed sensory receptors for pain. Two independent studies in 2006 used brain scans and showed unborn children respond to pain.
These children have noses, eyes, and ears. You can hear their heartbeats and feel them move. They are human.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act—I like to call it Micah’s Law—is called what it is because children like Micah feel pain. Those children are strong, just like Micah is strong. And those children should be protected.
Now, I have to admit, Madame Speaker, across the aisle I sometimes hear beautiful speeches filled with compassion for the voiceless, the defenseless, and the marginalized. They are trying to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. But what about Micah? What about the thousands of others like him killed the same age he was born? What about the millions who were never given a chance?
Look into Micah’s face—I think we all should—and tell me he isn’t human. Look at him when he was born and tell me that child doesn’t have a right to live.
We should care for the voiceless—for those whose cries of pain are never heard.
We should care for the defenseless—for those who will only be saved if we act to protect them.
We should care for the marginalized—for those who have their very humanity denied even as their noses, eyes, ears, heartbeats, and every movement are visible testaments of their life.
These children need love. Their mothers need love. Let’s end the pain. These children are suffering, so let’s end the pain. These children want to live, so let’s end their pain.
Micah is a beautiful kid. And there are millions of Micahs who will never smile. Micahs who will never walk. Micahs who will never scrape their knees and get into trouble. Micahs who will never learn to read. Micahs who will never fall in love and have children of their own. Micahs who will never have the chance to tell their mother and father, ‘I love you.’
We will never know these Micahs. Our lives our poorer because their lives were cut short. But there are more. Instead of pain—instead of pain—we should fill them with love.