(Washington, DC) This evening, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) took to the floor of the United States Senate to call for support of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act – which would ban abortions after five months of pregnancy – and share the story of the Pickering family from Newton, Iowa.
Micah Pickering was born prematurely at approximately five months and has grown to be an energetic three-year old boy. This legislation stands to save up to 10,000 lives like Micah’s per year by banning abortions after about five months of pregnancy – a stage of development at which evidence shows unborn babies can feel pain and may survive outside the womb with appropriate medical care.
Mr. President, just a short while ago, I had the opportunity to meet with a very special family from Newton, Iowa.
Micah Pickering, an adorable, energetic three-year old boy, was born prematurely, at just 22 weeks gestational age – the equivalent of 20-weeks after fertilization, the method of measurement in the bill before us.
You will notice my picture. This is Micah, that energetic three-year old boy. He was just in the office and the picture was there. And Micah ran up, and he said, “That’s me!” And he said, “That’s a baby!” This is Micah when he was born.
We are talking about 5 months, Mr. President. Think about that for a minute.
Micah’s parents and the doctors and nurses at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics were dedicated to his survival.
Micah’s mother, Danielle, has recounted the first time she got to meet her son in the hospital:
And I quote, “The second I was able to meet Micah changed my life. He was so small. I didn’t know what to expect. Would he look ‘normal’? Could I bond with this baby? Those questions were a mess in my head as I was wheeled into his room two hours after his birth. The sight I saw was a perfectly formed baby.”
“We didn’t understand at the time that Micah was right on time, but now we do. . . . You can be knowledgeable on every part of prematurity, but that does not change the fact that Micah was just as much full of life at 22.4 weeks as he is now at almost 3 years old.”
I can attest that this little boy, pictured behind me, is indeed full of life.
The bill before us today – the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act – would protect up to 10,000 lives like Micah’s every year by preventing abortions after 20 weeks, or about 5 months, of development.
As Micah proves, at 5 months, babies can live.
The United States is currently only one of 7 countries in the world that allows abortions after 5 months. We are currently in the same company of China and North Korea.
Mr. President, we must do better.
Substantial medical evidence indicates that at about 5 months of development, unborn babies can feel pain. This means that thousands of unborn lives end painfully through abortion in our country every year.
Is this really who we want to be as a nation? We are a country that stands for life. Just earlier I heard a colleague across the aisle talking about how God intends that we should protect bumblebees and tetrapods.
But what about human life? In order to rise and meet that commitment, we must protect the most vulnerable in our society – particularly those who cannot protect themselves.
The majority of men and women across this great nation agree. According to a Quinnipiac poll from last November, 60 percent of those surveyed support a law prohibiting abortion after 5 months of pregnancy.
Although passionate advocates on both sides of this issue of life often disagree, there should be no disagreement when it comes to protecting the life of an unborn child that has reached the point of development at which he or she can feel pain.
As you can see from the photo behind me, an unborn baby in its 5th month of development is not just a clump of cells—he or she can suck his or her thumb, yawn, stretch, and make faces. They have ten fingers and ten toes. They can also feel pain.
And, as Micah proves, they can survive outside the womb. As a mother and a grandmother, I urge my colleagues not to deny these babies the right to life.
Micah’s mom has said it best: “I bet that if Micah could have gone up to everyone who opposes the bill and give them a big hug, he could change all of their minds.”
Thank you Mr. President, I yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum.