WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK), the leader in the US Senate in protecting life, today led a press conference with members of the Senate Republican Conference ahead of the Supreme Court’s oral arguments tomorrow in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which directly challenges Roe v. Wade. Lankford was joined in the press conference by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), John Thune (R-SD), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Todd Young (R-IN), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), and Mike Lee (R-UT).
Lankford provided remarks on the Senate floor following the press conference to urge the Court, the nation, and his colleagues to stand for life and follow the science and the facts to challenge Roe v. Wade and return the right to the states to protect life.
Earlier today on Facebook Live, Lankford had a conversation with abortion survivor, Melissa Ohden, Founder of Abortion Survivors Network (ASN). Over the weekend, Lankford penned an op-ed for FoxNews.com on the importance of protecting life and discussing the potential impact of the Court ruling in favor of Dobbs. Lankford joined an amicus brief signed by more than 220 Members of Congress supporting the state of Mississippi in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which presents the Supreme Court with the opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Lankford remains a staunch advocate for conscience protections, including for healthcare workers and insurance providers, who do not want to participate in abortions. In November, Lankford called out the Biden Administration after a memo surfaced from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rescinding the authority of its Office for Civil Rights to investigate claims of violations of an individual’s rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
Lankford introduced the Conscience Protection Act o protect healthcare providers, including health insurance plans from government discrimination if they decline to participate in abortions.. Lankford has successfully defended life against the pro-abortion Administration. He introduced an amendment that saved the long-standing Hyde and Weldon Amendments, which prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions and abortion-related discrimination against health care workers, including insurers.
Transcript of Senate Floor Remarks
In December of 1952, again in December of 1953, the Supreme Court was packed. There was lines out into the hallway with people waiting to get in to hear oral arguments. In December the court would hear arguments on the legality of segregation brought by Thurgood Marshall representing the Brown family from Topeka, Kansas. Just 56 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, segregation was protected by the Supreme Court in Plessy vs. Ferguson. They ruled that separate but equal facilities were constitutional, thus enshrining the national disgrace of segregation into America.
An absolutely terrible decision by the Supreme Court that haunted our nation for decades. And it took 56 years before the Supreme Court corrected its wrong. Now more than a century past the Plessy v. Ferguson decision, the nation still celebrates the court that decided the Brown vs. Board of Education case as justices righted a great wrong against millions of people. There was a simple lesson in that decision. When the court made a mistake, it should fix its mistake.
In a lesser known case that affects just about every American now, in 2018, the Supreme Court overturned by a 5-4 decision, 51 years of precedent on the collection of taxes for businesses called the Physical Presence Rule. Many people now know it as the Internet Tax Rule. It changed the way taxes were collected on the internet. When they made that decision is in the 2018, there was great confusion and consternation, statements that it would be impossible to implement and it would bring certain destruction to the internet commerce.
In fact, in the dissent in that 5-4 decision, the minority in the court stated this, “E-commerce has grown into a significant and vibrant part of our national committee against the back drop of established rules including the physical presence rules. Any alteration have the potential to disrupt a critical segment of our economy and should be undertaken only by Congress. The Court should not act on this question of current economic policy solely to correct a mistake it made over 50 years ago.’
It was hand-wringing by the Court, the minority there, that they opposed correcting the obvious mistake of the Court from 51 years before because it could hurt the cyber economy. In other words, doing the right thing involved a risk.
Well, yesterday was cyber Monday. It was one of the largest single days of purchasing online in history. The court did the right thing and the economy kept going. It was a simple lesson in that decision. When the court made a mistake, it should fix its mistake even if it was 50 years later.
Tomorrow the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments in what could potentially be the most consequential case for human rights in 48 years. Tomorrow at 10:00 am, nine justices will hear arguments and ask questions of the attorney general of the state of Mississippi and counsel representing an abortion clinic in Mississippi. Tomorrow morning the court will consider whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are constitutional. Tomorrow this court has the opportunity to uphold the self-evident truth to personhood, The facts of science and have our hearts declaration, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Simply stated, the court has an opportunity to correct its mistake from 1973, 48 years ago.
In 2018, the Mississippi legislature enacted the Gestational Age Act, which limits abortion to 15 weeks of gestation except in medical emergency and cases of severe fetal abnormality . Jackson women’s health organization, an abortion clinic in Mississippi sued. Federal courts held that the law was in violation of court precedent in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. Now it is known as the Dobbs case. It stands before the Supreme Court at 10:00 am tomorrow. This case presents an opportunity for the Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade and turn the role of legislating on the issue of life back to the states where it was pre-Roe v. Wade.
Roe v. Wade, as this body knows extremely well, the Supreme Court decided the constitution guarantees the right to have an abortion until the viability of a child, with very little understanding of the term viability. Years later in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, the Court also said that the government couldn’t place an undue burden on access to abortion which has been used to block many laws that aim to protect women and children. Both decisions were completely arbitrary and not based in constitutional law.
Viability, quite frankly, is impossible to define because children develop at different speeds. One child, like Curtis Means who just left the University of Alabama Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit after being delivered at 21 weeks and one day, the youngest child to be born ever. Another child may not survive if they were delivered at 32 weeks.
Viability was completely invented by the Court in 1973 as a standard and is impossible to actually track. America has not forgotten about these children. We’ve not moved on and we’ve not just accepted Roe v. Wade. Because when we see a child as this one is at 15 weeks, we actually see a baby. Shockingly enough. 48 years ago the Supreme Court may have decided that a woman has a right to an abortion, but we never lost track of humanity.
Abortion is not just a medical procedure. It’s the taking of a human life. I talked this morning with an abortion survivor, and, yes, they do exist by the thousands. She’s in her 40s. She has children of her own now. She survived a botched abortion and was actually delivered alive during an abortion procedure. She was taken by a nurse to the nice unit of that hospital and is alive and thriving today. I sat there with that abortion survivor thinking that abortion is not about random tissue. It’s about a person. Quite frankly, this morning the person who was sitting right in front of me, I understand full well. I’m a pastor who is now a senator.
I’m fully aware that I have a Biblical world view and my dedication to children is not just because I’m a follower of Jesus and believe that every person is created in the image of god. I also firmly can look at the science. The science is clear to anyone who is willing to get past the talking points and actually look into the womb. At the moment of fertilization a new and distinct human being comes into existence. It’s not just a fertilized egg. It’s a new human. This new cell, which is called a zygote, shows behavior that is unlike the behavior of any other cell around it that’s in the woman’s body. The DNA inside that cell is different than the DNA inside any other cell in the mom’s body. That cell has everything that he or she needs to become a fully developed human being.
Everyone listening to me right now, everyone was once a single-cell zygote. Completely dependent on your mom for nutrition. It’s why we encourage moms to eat good foods, take prenatal vitamins, and stop smoking and all those things, because we want to protect the development of her child. Why? Because we all recognize that that’s a child, and what a mom does now will affect the future for that child. As the baby grows in his or her mother’s womb, it continues to develop. At 15 weeks, as this baby is, and that is what the Mississippi law is all about is a baby that looks just like that. At 15 weeks a baby has heart, lungs, skin, eyes, nervous system.
By 15 weeks or a little over a three months of pregnancy, this pre-born baby is moving around and responds to touch. All of her organs are formed and she just needs more time for them to grow and develop. Her heart already has four chambers. It’s already beaten millions of times and pumps more than six quarts of blood per day. She cannot breathe outside the womb, but she is breathing inside the womb. She has arms and legs, ten fingers and ten toes. And normally by this point already shows a preference for being right-handed or left handed. She have has eyes, lips, nose, finger nails, eyebrows, even taste buds. And she can feel pain.
This decision has both ethical, moral, and medical implications. Look in the mirror for anyone in this room. You’ve got fingers and toes and lips and a nose and finger nails and eyebrows and taste buds. You can feel your heart beating. The only difference between you right now and this child is time. That’s it. But for some, it’s easy to just close their eyes and ignore the self-evident fact, because it’s easier to talk about court precedent or choice, because if we looked at each child and recognized this child for who she is, it’s hard to process that in the last 48 years, 62 million children have died by abortion in America. And for some, they can’t allow themselves to acknowledge what is self-evident because it would too painful to think about 62 million children.
Can I tell you, 62 million children is the combined population of Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Rhode island, Maine, New Hampshire, Hawaii, West Virginia, Idaho, Nebraska, New Mexico, Kansas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Nevada, Iowa, Utah, Connecticut, Oregon, Kentucky, Louisiana, Alabama, and Oklahoma combined.
The Court decision that led to the death of 62 million children is a Court precedent that needs to be discarded. Prior to 1973, each state had its own laws on abortion. That’s what would happen again if the court overturns Roe v. Wade. We’ll have a patchwork of laws about abortion just like we do right now on homicide. In some states like mine, if a pregnant mother and her child are killed the perpetrator faces two charges of murder—one for the mom, one for the child.
In other states the perpetrator would only face one charge of murder because that state doesn’t recognize that child’s existence at all. I think that’s absurd, but that’s a law in one state, and it changes from state to state. People can speak to their own state legislators about changing that law in their state and about recognizing the value of every child, even the child in the womb. But until they do, that child is a nonentity in some states. That kind of difference in homicide laws is allowed by the Supreme Court already. This Court should give that same right to every state for every pre-born child, not just for some.
The law being debated in the Supreme Court tomorrow reflects the will of the people of Mississippi, just as many pro-life laws in Oklahoma and in our legislature have reflected the will of the people of Oklahoma. The arbitrary outdated viability standard established by the court makes it harder for states to protect women from physical risk that accompany late-term abortions. It makes it difficult to allow states to protect pre-born babies in the second trimester that can experience pain. The viability standard prevents states from banning dismemberment abortion. The viability standard deters states from protecting children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome, developmental disabilities, and children being aborted simply because they’re male or female. It also prevents states from protecting the lives of their own citizens at any stage of development.
I don’t understand how infants have become a partisan issue. I really don’t. There are some issues, as I talk to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, I can see their perspective and their point of view. I may not agree, but I can understand their point of view. But on this issue I do not understand how some people see a baby sucking their thumb in a womb and only see them as medical waste. I don’t understand how some people can support an abortion in one moment, but when they talk to a woman who had a miscarriage, they immediately respond with, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry.’
If a miscarriage is a loss of a child, what is an abortion? I don’t know how someone who supports the right to abort children, brings a gift to a baby shower and celebrates a mom and a baby. How can one child be worth celebrating and the other be medical waste? I don’t understand that compartmentalization. I don’t know who those who support abortion support protecting bald eagle eggs in federal but have no problem supporting the taking of human life in the womb.
Children are not medical waste. Children are beautiful, innocent, and valuable. Some people that are pro-abortion call pro-life people horrible names and they say they’re trying to limit a woman’s choice and her freedom while they work to protect her right to have her own baby literally have its arms and legs torn off in the womb so the child would bleed to death in the womb and then each body part would be suctioned out separately. I don’t consider that freedom. I can that cruel and inhumane. They say it’s a woman’s choice, but when does the child get to choose?
Some people in our nation actually celebrate the death of children like it’s some glorious empowerment of a woman that she is able to pick and choose which baby will live or die based on her decision. I don’t think that is empowerment. I think it is barbaric.
Mother Teresa stated, ‘It’s a poverty that you can choose a child to die so you can choose to live as you wish.’
Change begins tomorrow. Tomorrow, the Court will have the opportunity to uphold the constitution, eradicate the outdated, oppressive, and deadly precedent. and turn our discussion of life to the legislators of each state, now is the time for this court to overturn Roe v. Wade. Our nation prides itself on human rights, but we have this huge glaring exception. We deny the obvious fact of a child until they are born. We ignore a child’s existence until it’s convenient.
I really believe in the decades ahead our nation will catch up, and we’ll look back on these years with grief. We’ll be shocked that when we saw a pregnancy test that saw positive, somehow we didn’t figure out it meant positive for tissue, it meant positive for a baby.
I look forward to the day when the United States will be a beacon of justice for every child, not just a few, when we’ll be a nation that protects the weak, not just a nation that stands up for the strong, when we’ll lead the world to protect the innocent and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, when America is a beacon of hope for every child.
Southern slave owners in 1830 denied humanity to their slaves. Men in 1900 denied women a right to vote. The United States rounded up Japanese Americans in World War II and put them into camps. All three of those were considered legal and appropriate at the time. All three of those were fought tenaciously when they were changed, and all three of them are a national embarrassment now. There was a time when the Court ruled ‘separate but equal’ was justice. Then six decades later they reversed course ending segregation. Justice requires when the Court gets it wrong, they correct their own mistake. This time there are millions of children counting on the Court getting it right.
‘Blessed are those who have regard for the weak. The Lord delivers them in times of trouble.’ Psalm 41, verse 1