Editor’s note. On Tuesday the Senate witnessed an extraordinary outpouring of pro-life speeches. We will post three of those remarks today and more tomorrow. The following comes from Sen. James Lankford (R-Ok).
Mr. President, we are in a historic season as a country. We are pausing to ask ourselves a question that quite frankly we have not really asked ourselves in a long time: When does life begin?
It is not just philosophical. It is not just theological. It is not just scientific. It is personal, as each person has to come to a decision: When does life begin?
And when the Supreme Court made the Dobbs decision last summer, that actually put America back in the position that it had been in historically.
Our Nation is 234 years old, and for 185 of those years, each State passed State laws to be able to determine the decision about this issue of when does life begin. So the Dobbs decision was not a radical decision. It is the typical decision for Americans, quite frankly, for 185 of our 234 years.
But it doesn’t settle the issue of abortion. Abortion is still legal in America. As much as there is all the noise around the country right now that abortion has somehow gone away, it certainly has not. Abortion is still all over the country.
But it has pushed Americans, and it has pushed Americans specifically on this one issue: When does life begin? Quite frankly, I have had fascinating conversations with people over the past 8 months that they had never actually contemplated this issue, that they had never stopped to be able to think about it. They just said: Abortion is legal. Abortion is legal. It is just a woman’s choice, a woman’s choice, a woman’s choice, and I don’t want to think about it.
But when the decision came down, a lot of people had to stop and say: When does life begin? Is it at birth? Is it after birth? Is it 10 minutes before birth? Is it a month before birth? Is it 2 months before birth? Quite frankly, I have had this conversation with a lot of folks, and some folks have told me: Well, it is at viability. And I say: OK. Define viability for me, because viability in 1973, when the Court was struggling with Roe v. Wade, was very different than viability now.
Medical science has advanced tremendously. So is viability 26 weeks or is it at 21 weeks of gestation? And if it is at 21 weeks, what is the difference between 20 weeks and 19 weeks? What is the difference between 18 weeks? I look at these two pictures right here of this child—this one is out of the womb, and this one is 5 months earlier—and I ask the simple question: What is the difference between these two pictures of this child? The only difference between that sonogram picture in the womb and that child outside of the womb is time.
That is it. The same DNA is in this child as in this child—the same parents, the same development. Everything is the same. The only difference is time. I am 5 months older than I was 5 months ago because I have aged 5 months. So did that child from that moment. So my question is very simple: When is a child a child? When does life begin? Is this one not alive and this one is alive simply because he is 5 months older? When is a child a child?
For 50 years, there have been a group of folks—this year there were tens of thousands—who gather out on the Mall just to be able to celebrate every single child. They have done it now for five decades, since the Roe v. Wade decision came down. They have gathered on the Mall, and they just said: We believe every child is valuable—every child. There aren’t some children who are disposable and some children who are valuable. We think every child is valuable.
Now, that is not a radical concept. I have folks who yell and scream at me, quite frankly, and say: A woman has the right to be able to choose. And I ask just the very simple question of them, in great respect: Has the right to choose to be able to take the life of a child at what age? Because that child is valuable and so is that child, because it is the same child, just at a different age.
I celebrate the folks who have for five decades gathered on The Mall and have marched for life and have said: We will not forget the value of every single child, because tens of millions of children have died in this country in the last 50 years after the Roe v. Wade decision.
While abortion is still available in America, everyone is having to pause and ask a simple question: What do I believe about life? Not what is convenient; what do I believe about life?
I have been very outspoken on this floor about my frustration with the Biden administration. I have not held back on this because they are the most pro-abortion Presidency in American history. They actively work on increasing the number of abortions in America, and I find that not only appalling, I find that painful, that we as a nation have a policy of finding ways to increase the death of children. That is not who we should be as a nation.
We should be working to be able to protect the life of every single child. The most basic science that anyone will work through is, if you look at this child in the womb, there is no difference in this child and this child outside the womb. That is the most basic of science. If you want to look at science, look at science, but then ask yourself the personal question as well: When does life begin?
The argument about abortion—it is not just a legal argument. Everyone wants to take it to a legal issue, quite frankly, because this body is a legal body, but the issue of abortion is not just a legal issue, and it is not just about making abortion illegal in the country. I would tell you, I am working to make abortion unthinkable in this country because we look past the convenience and look at this child’s face and say: Why does that child not deserve life like every one of us?
Because at its most basic level, there is no difference between any one of us in this room and when we were at this stage right here in our mother’s womb. So I ask this body a simple question: When does life begin, and are some children really disposable and some children are valuable?
That is the question each of us needs to decide, and I am proud to stand with those who have marched for 50 years to say children are valuable, all of them—all of them