Let no child die in a hot car – or the warmth of a mother’s womb

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By Senator James Lankford —

Sen. Lankford displaying photos in the U.S. Senate

If you buy a new GM car, a Nissan, Honda, Kia or Toyota, even a Hyundai. You’ll notice they started installing a new feature in their cars. It’s a reminder when you turn off your engine to check your back seat. Quite frankly, I rented a car not long ago, and it started dinging, and I tried to figure out what I had done. I kept looking around until I saw the little monitor on the dashboard, and it said check the back seat, which I thought was great. Because the makers of those cars all believe every child is precious, and they shouldn’t be harmed.

We’ve all heard stories like this, but I distinctly remember last summer seeing in the news the story about an infant who died because they were left in a hot car. That’s why these carmakers are making this feature now. I remember as I saw the story on the news and just the reports and how angry people were in the community, and they were angry at the store and they were upset on the news. And they couldn’t believe that a mom had left a child in the back seat of a car, and they had slowly died in the heat, because no one wants to see a child harmed.

Everyone believes that every child is precious. But I remember when I saw the story on the news last summer, I remember turning to my wife and saying, “I can’t figure out our culture sometimes, because that same mom and that same baby could have gone into an abortion clinic just a few months before, and that child’s life could have ended, and it wouldn’t have made the news. In fact, no one would have flinched.” In fact, the very same people that were furious at that mom for leaving her child in a hot car to die would have argued for her right to destroy that exact same child, and in fact would have called it her reproductive right or even the new euphemism out there reproductive ‘care.’ Same child, same mom, nothing was different but a few months in time.

Reproductive care seems like such a nice little euphemism, but what it really means is paying someone in a clinic to reach into the womb with a surgical instrument to pull the arms and legs off of a child in the womb so that they will bleed to death in the womb and then suction out the little boy or girl’s body parts one at a time. That’s what reproductive care means. And I don’t understand why that’s normal, but leaving a child in the back seat of a hot car is a tragedy. Maybe it’s because as a nation, some people are afraid to answer the most obvious question: is that a baby? That’s the most obvious question. That face, that nose, those two eyes, that mouth, that chin, those fingers—is that a baby?

That’s really the only question. Is that a child?

Maybe there’s a second question that needs to be answered: are all children valuable, or are only some children valuable? We seem to have a great deal of debate today in our society—and we should—about facts. People say we can’t seem to agree on the same set of facts and truth. You can’t have your facts and my facts. We just only have facts. The media, big tech, activists have all decried of our loss of our ability as a nation to just accept clear facts in front of our face. The obvious truth.

So let me ask a question again: is that a baby? Yes or no?

Because if we’re all supposed to say let’s at least agree to the most basic of facts, how about that one? Is that a human child with a future and a purpose and a name? Are all children valuable, or are only some? Gold is valuable. It doesn’t matter its size. I have gold in my wedding ring. Many people have gold in their wedding rings. If we found a small piece of gold on the floor, it would be valuable. It wouldn’t matter its shape, wouldn’t matter its size, small or large. We don’t discriminate. Gold is valuable because everyone recognizes its worth. Every single senator in this room recognizes the value of gold. It’s around $1,800 an ounce right now to get gold. No matter how small, gold is valuable, but we can’t seem to agree that all children are valuable. Literally gold is more precious to some people in this room than children are. Children aren’t valuable only sometimes, or only certain children. Children are valuable. It can’t be just if a mom or dad wants a child they’re valuable, and if they don’t want a child, they’re not valuable, they’re disposable. The mom or dad gets to choose who’s precious and who’s medical waste.

Is that a child? That’s really the only question that has to be answered, because everything else flows from that.

There are political conversations in this room about the value of children, and every time it comes up, it gets noisy. People will say, ‘Well, you don’t fund enough money for education or childcare or health care in communities, so you don’t love children.’ I would say I voted for the exact same bill you did last year for billions of dollars for assistance in childcare, billions of dollars for early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, higher education. We did additional assistance for SNAP benefits last year and assistance of benefits of moms in need, increased health care for all communities, for federally qualified health centers to make sure we get health care to every single community. I voted on those exact same things multiple other people did in this room. I care about children outside the womb.

But those questions really aren’t the question. They are distractions to the question, and I get it. Because if I ask: is that a child, people respond, ‘Well do you spend enough for childcare or health care?’ And I still say, “Stop, answer my first question. Is that a child?’ Maybe I should ask a more basic question: does everyone in this room believe in the principle we should do unto others as we would want done unto us? What would you want done to you when you were in the womb?

Listen, I don’t want to address this issue lightly. This is a difficult issue for some people. I don’t think an abortion is a flippant thing that anyone walks into an abortion. I don’t meet anyone that had an abortion is somehow gleeful about it. Quite frankly, I can’t imagine that anyone who had an abortion would ever forget the sights and the sounds and the smells of an abortion. Knowing that a helpless child is dying at that moment. I grieve for moms and dads who will never, ever forget that they went into a clinic and paid someone to get rid of their child in the name of ‘reproductive care.’ I can’t imagine what their emotion is. But we as a society have to answer this question still for every child that is yet to come.

Forty-eight years ago this week, the Supreme Court made a decision that has now resulted in the death of 62 million children in America—sixty-two million. That is hard to fathom. And like so many other Supreme Court decisions, America has not forgotten about this one. Our culture has not just moved on and accepted it. Every year since 1974, the first year after the Roe v. Wade decision, individuals from across the country have gathered in Washington, DC, in defense of the unborn. Friends, families, church leaders, community folks, they have all marched in the rain, the sleet, the snow. It’s cold every year this week in January. But they come. This year will be different due to COVID-19 and the ongoing security concerns in Washington, DC, marchers are staying home, and they are engaging virtually. Maybe this is one more moment where even more people can get involved online because I expect the rally this year will draw an even larger number of people. Students and families and people, quite frankly, from all over the world, just to ask a question is on the motion: will we recognize the most obvious thing in front of our face? That’s a baby.

President Biden this week celebrated the passage of Roe v. Wade by declaring that he wants to pass a federal law requiring abortion to be provided in every single state in America. Not just trust a court decision from 1973. He wants us to proactively require in statute that every state demands abortion in their state. And that the federal taxpayers with hard-earned tax dollars should actually be required to pay for those abortions all over America. It wasn’t long ago that Senator Biden was saying things like ‘taxpayers shouldn’t be required to pay for abortion. They shouldn’t be required to pay for something that they find so morally objectionable.’ It wasn’t that long ago, Senator Biden was talking about abortion being safe, legal, and rare.

It should be baseline for us to be able to say, ‘If a child is actually delivered in a botched abortion and had been fully delivered outside the womb, we should help that child get medical care.’ I don’t understand why that’s so hard.

I don’t understand why it’s so hard to say, ‘Some people are absolutely appalled by the taking of a child’s life. Don’t force them with their tax dollars to pay for it.’ I don’t understand why that’s controversial.

I don’t understand why it’s controversial that when a child can feel pain in the womb, that we shouldn’t dismember a child in the womb. I don’t understand why that’s controversial.

I don’t understand why it’s controversial to some that if a health care provider who has sworn to protect life, that that person shouldn’t be compelled to take life in an abortion procedure by their employer. I don’t understand why that’s controversial. But for some reason, it is.

Among our most basic rights in America, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, one of the most basic things that come out of our founding documents is these things are referred to as self-evident. Facts are facts, especially when those facts have a face. How can you look at that picture and say, ‘That’s not a human child?’ How can we not acknowledge the simple facts? Now, I do understand for some people, this is very difficult because they fought for years for abortion, and they don’t want that to change, because if it changes, they would have to admit there have been deaths of millions of children on their watch. That is not a simple thing to admit. But please do not tell me you’re following the science. Because that child has ten fingers and ten toes and a beating heart and a functioning nervous system. That child has DNA that’s different than the mom or the dad. That’s not a random tissue. That is a separate person, and science would confirm that, so please don’t tell me you follow the science wherever it goes, because some facts are obvious. And the science is clear.

And this all gets resolved when we answer one simple question: is that a child or not? Because everything else goes from that.

For those of you joining the March for Life online this week, good for you. Keep going. Don’t give up. Defend the facts that are self-evident. Speak out for those who can’t speak for themselves because millions of future Americans are counting on it. And they’re watching for someone to admit the facts, the facts that have a face.

 

The preceding are excerpted remarks delivered by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) on the Senate floor January 27, 2021. The full remarks are here. To watch the March for Life virtually, go here