(Washington, DC) U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) spoke in support of protecting and celebrating life on the floor of the U.S. Senate ahead of the annual March for Life in Washington, DC and the 45th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Ernst was one of several Senators who made remarks prior to the event.
Below is the transcript as prepared for delivery:
Mr. President, I’m rising today to discuss the importance of protecting and celebrating life.
As I travel across the state of Iowa, I have had the opportunity to hear directly from families whose lives have been changed by the innovative, life-affirming services offered by their local pregnancy resource center. And, there are so many more stories of vulnerable lives saved all across the country. Not just in Iowa, but all across the country.
So, I would like to begin by recognizing the critical on-the-ground actions of these pregnancy resource centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies across the country that are changing and saving lives. And I want to thank them for all that they do.
Since coming to Washington, I have tried to hold Congress accountable to do its part to protect the most vulnerable in our society. The Senator from Missouri just mentioned that we can measure a society and ours is a great society. But we can do more to protect those that are vulnerable.
For example, last January, I re-introduced legislation to defund Planned Parenthood while protecting women’s health care centers. As I have stated time and again, taxpayers should not be forced to foot the bill for roughly a half a billion dollars annually for an organization like Planned Parenthood that exhibits such disrespect for human life.
Despite what they may claim otherwise, Planned Parenthood is not the nation’s preeminent provider of women’s health care. For example, Planned Parenthood facilities don’t even perform in-house mammograms. They don’t do that. Community health centers on the other hand, continue to greatly outnumber Planned Parenthoods. They provide greater preventative and primary health care services – regardless of a person’s ability to pay.
Additionally, last April, President Trump signed my legislation into law that ensures states are not forced to provide entities like Planned Parenthood – the nation’s single largest provider of abortions – with federal Title X dollars.
I am grateful to have worked with Congresswoman Diane Black – a dear friend in the House, my Senate colleagues – who are here with me today, and President Trump to make sure states are not forced to award providers like Planned Parenthood with taxpayer dollars through Title X family planning grants.
Another effort my colleagues and I continue to work on is passing Senator Graham’s Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act right here in the Senate. Whenever I discuss this bill, I cannot help but share the remarkable story of a very special family from Newton, Iowa.
In July 2012, Micah Pickering was born prematurely at just 20 weeks post-fertilization – the very age at which this bill would prohibit abortions. When he was born, Micah was only, if you can imagine it, Micah was only about the size of a bag of M&Ms. About the size of the palm of my hand. Yet Micah was still a perfectly formed baby with 10 fingers and 10 toes.
Now when I first met Micah, he was just a few years old, and he came to visit me in my office. And we had a photo of Micah when he was just born. Again folks, the size of the palm of my hand, a little bag of M&Ms. That photo, I had it in my office. Little Micah ran up to that photo, and he pointed at it, and he said “baby.” And we said “Yes Micah, that’s a baby. That’s a baby.”
Just a few months ago, I had the opportunity to visit again with Micah and his parents at my office here in D.C., and I can attest that now at five years old, Micah remains a happy, healthy, energetic little boy.
Stories like Micah’s show all of us that at five months, an unborn child is a child. Just as Micah would say “a baby.”
There is also significant scientific evidence that at five months of development, these babies can feel pain.
Yet, there is no federal law protecting these vulnerable babies from abortion. As a result, every year in our country, the lives of thousands of babies just like Micah end painfully through abortion.
Currently, the U.S. is one of only seven countries to allow abortions at five months of gestation. We are in the company of China and North Korea. Folks, this is unacceptable.
There is much work to be done in the ongoing fight to protect life. We understand that. But as folks from across the country travel to Washington to March for Life this week, I’m urging my colleagues to join me in calling for a vote on this critical legislation that recognizes these unborn babies as the children they are, and provides them the same protection from pain and suffering that all of our children deserve.
Again, as Micah Pickering would say, a baby.