Joni Ernst

Address at SBL List Campaign for Life Gala - April 21, 2016

Joni Ernst
April 21, 2016— Washington, D.C.
Print friendly

God bless you. Thank you. Please be seated. Please be seated. Thank you so much.

Good evening. I am so thrilled to be here speaking to you tonight.

And thank you, Chuck, thank you so much for your tireless work on behalf of the unborn. And thank you to SBA List for not only inviting me to be here this evening but also for your continued support and encouragement. We all need that, don't we?

In 2014, we saw an incredible sweeping results across the country when folks like all of you helped replace Harry Reid's liberal Senate with a conservative majority.

Thanks to your commitment over the last year we have been able to put forward strong, pro-life proposals that protect our most vulnerable. With the help of SBA List and everyone in this room, our numbers are growing and we truly are a force to be reckoned with. So thanks to all of you. We appreciate it.

But now, 2016 is a critical year for our pro-life values. The candidates on the left are caught up in a fight over who is the stronger pro-abortion liberal. And because those folks on the other side of this issue can't win an argument on the merits of abortion, they resort to scare tactics to mislead the American people about our pro-life policies.

And as I've said before, and I know I visited with some of you tonight about it—I have said this, I've said it many times over—I am a woman. I have been to war and our pro life policies are not a war on women. That's right. Absolutely not.

Rather, to me, pro-life policies serve to recognize the joint responsibility of a mother, a father, and society at large to protect and nurture each and every life from the moment that it is created, and characterize abortion as a reflection of our collective failure to meet that responsibility and not as a litmus test for the advancement of women's rights.

And pro-life policies seek to ensure we cherish every woman and girl equally at every stage of their development.

While the issue of abortion impacts us all, it is important that young women in our country see strong female leaders in Congress, just like we saw Representative Mia Love, who just received the Defender of Life Award—and she is very, very deserving. They need to see women leaders like that stand up loudly and proudly to share that message.

In my first year in office I have worked to do just that. I have been proud, so proud, to lead the fight in the U.S. Senate to defund Planned Parenthood. And I am truly proud to do that. A number of us have discussed this, as well, this evening. When I say pro-life is important to me, I find that this issue is easy for me and I know it's easy for so many of you as well, so thank you for doing that.

But I fought in the Senate to defund Planned Parenthood and to redirect the taxpayer dollars they received to other eligible providers that do not perform abortions, like community health centers.

And for the first time last December, the House and the Senate both passed and sent to the President's desk legislation to defund Planned Parenthood.

That in itself was such a major victory for those of us that stand for life. Although the bill was vetoed by president Obama, it showed us all what a pro-life majority in the Senate and House could accomplish if we had a pro-life president in the White House.

And that's what we are gathered here tonight to recognize and celebrate—our campaign for life. This campaign started long ago and has continued to gain momentum since 2014.

Over the last several months, together, we have been taking advantage of the opportunity to continue to uncover the truth about an abortion industry and share information with folks about organizations like pregnancy and community health centers that vastly outnumber Planned Parenthood clinics across the country.

We have also been able to set the record straight that Planned Parenthood is the single largest provider of abortion in our country and not the preeminent provider of women's healthcare that some have proclaimed it to be.

Some women think they provide all sorts of preventive measures in health care. They think they do mammograms and no, folks, they do not perform in-house mammograms. This is the word that we have been spreading all across the United States, that there are other ways to find women's healthcare.

Last fall I also joined my colleagues in support of Senator Lindsey Graham's Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in an effort to ban abortions after five months of pregnancy, a stage of development at which evidence shows unborn babies can feel pain and survive outside of the womb. The bill would have protected up to 10,000 lives every year and finally removed our country, our great country, from the poor company it keeps on this particular issue. Currently the United States is only one of seven countries, to include China and North Korea, that allows abortion after five months. That's not good company to be in.

On the day I took to the Senate floor to speak in favor of the bill, I had the opportunity to meet an adorable, adorable three-year-old boy from my home state of Iowa named Micah Pickering. Micah was born prematurely at just five months of development, just five months. As pictures showed me, he was about the size of a bag of M&MS. He was tiny, tiny. And despite all odds, Micah, his parents, nurses and doctors—they were dedicated to his survival.

When I met Micah—and I met his parents in my office—his parents told me that they knew Micah, that Micah was just as full of life when he was born as they saw in him as that three-year-old little boy. And he was full of life, I will tell you. He was all over the office, which I love to see. He was all over my couch and my coffee table, and it was a joy because Micah was with us.

The majority of women and men across this great nation agree with the Pickerings, as polling shows that 60 percent of Americans surveyed support a law prohibiting abortion after five months of pregnancy. A majority—60 percent. Yes, thank you. Thank you so much. Sixty percent of Americans polled.

Now I had a picture of Micah that I was going to use for my floor speech in my office, and it was a side-by-side picture. Showed a picture of Micah when he was born and he was tiny and he had tubes going in and out of his body, and on the other side was a recent picture of Micah in the backyard at his parents' house climbing a tree. So this big, side-by-side picture for the floor of the Senate. And when Micah went up to that picture, he pointed at the three-year-old picture of himself and he said, "Me." And then he pointed at the other side of the picture and he said, "A baby." Five months—a baby.

And that's right, folks, a three-year-old boy knew what many adults attempt to deny; that is, a baby at five months of development is not just a clump of cells. They have ten fingers. They have ten toes. And they can also feel pain. That was a baby.

And it's what we all know. Life is precious. And together we will continue to fight to protect it.

And it isn't easy. It isn't easy when we're trying to convince others. A number of you in this room have been at this for a very, very long time, and you know all too well the difficult road that we have ahead. But as children like Micah prove, life is worth fighting for.

As we forge ahead to November, folks, it's going to be a long, long tough fight. So as we forge ahead to November and even years beyond that, we know, we know that we can do this. And I am fortunate to work with all of you to protect and defend life.

God bless all of you. God bless this great nation, the United States of America. Let's go forward and protect life.

Thanks to all of you. God bless you. Thank you. Thank you very much.