Abraham Lincoln, in a message to Congress on July 4, 1861, wrote that the leading object of government was “to elevate the condition of men -- to lift artificial weights from all shoulders -- to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all -- to afford all, an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life.”
It is no coincidence that he gave this message on the anniversary of our nation’s birth.
Lincoln was echoing the profound legacy of our founding – a legacy that shaped our nation and rippled across the world.
When the Founders broke off from the yoke of British tyranny, they declared all men to be endowed with certain inalienable rights.
Rights that come not from a state, a church, a man, or a government – but from God himself.
And the first of these inalienable rights … was life. Never was a nation born of higher principle, or a deeper connection to human happiness.
Here, the people would rule.
Here, government would serve the people and not the other way around.
Here, for the first time yet forever, each person – no matter his or her station in life – was endowed with these rights and entitled to their equal protection.
Today, 159 years since Lincoln’s message to Congress, and 244 years since the Founders’ message to the World – here we stand, sworn – still – to fulfill their promise.
And as far as we have come in that time, we still have so far to go.
Today, our government – founded to protect Americans’ rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – threatens unborn Americans on all three counts.
The Supreme Court imposes, and Congress subsidizes, the most radical abortion policy in the western world.
Since 1973, more than 60 million little lives have been lost. The children lost to abortion cannot be seen, or heard – but every one of them is felt.
Mothers have been robbed of their children. There are gaping holes left across our nation and in our families – gaping holes that only those unique, unrepeatable souls could have filled.
For more than four decades, we have failed American women, and their unborn children.
Today, we have a chance to do better.
We have a chance to stand up for the weakest among us – the ones still being knit together in their mother’s wombs.
The ones that we know respond to human touch by the age of eight weeks, and who feel pain by the age of 20 weeks; who recognize the sound of their mother’s voice before they are born.
Science and medicine are only confirming what we know deep down: that unborn human beings are, in fact, just like us. Every day, more scientific evidence confirms our moral intuition that a person’s a person, no matter how small.
And so the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act before us earlier this week would have banned abortions for babies more than 20 weeks of age – upholding in law what science confirms. That is, that these babies feel every bit of their life being ended.
This should not have been a controversial bill.
But still less controversial should have been the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.
The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act takes no position on abortion, or the rights of the unborn.
It simply says that, in this country, when a child is born – even if by accident, even in the most dangerous place in the world for an infant – a Planned Parenthood clinic – he or she becomes a citizen of the United States under our Constitution, entitled to the full protection of our laws.
It says that when a child intended to be aborted is in fact born alive, he or she cannot be “disposed of” in the backroom of a clinic or a hospital.
This bill merely outlaws the murder of the innocent, in the first moments of life outside the womb.
It is a tragedy – and a blight upon this body – that these bills failed this week.
A minority of this body chose to reject both the scientific facts of human biology, and the essential moral principle of human dignity.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time in our nation’s history that we have looked at people according to a logic of utility and power.
It is not the first time that we have tried to dehumanize human beings; and it is not the first time we have tried to pick and choose who is “wanted” or “valuable” in society.
But thankfully, if there is one thing that we know about our country, it is that the American people have a way of bending the arc of history toward Life.
We have a long, proud history of standing up for the weak, the innocent, the vulnerable.
We have made mistakes, grave mistakes. But the right thing to do is always the right thing to do. And we come around in the end.
And today, there is reason to hope.
Abortions in my home state of Utah have been steadily declining over the past four decades, with fewer than 3,000 happening in 2017.
Six states are now down to just one abortion clinic: Kentucky, West Virginia, North Dakota, South Dakota, Mississippi, and Missouri.
This past year, Alabama passed a law banning elective abortions in most circumstances.
And just last month, hundreds of thousands of Americans marched once again through Washington, as they have year after year, for those who cannot.
The tide is turning, Mr. President.
And today, we have another chance to right these wrongs.
Through my bill, the Abortion is Not Healthcare Act, we have the chance to stop the tax deductibility of abortions, which are currently categorized as “medical care” by the IRS.
The purpose of healthcare is to heal and to cure, not to kill.
Let us be serious, Mr. President: whatever else abortion may be, of course elective abortion is not health care. That’s why physicians literally take an oath “to do no harm.”
The government should not offer tax benefits for a procedure that kills hundreds of thousands of unborn children each year; nor should taxpayers have to subsidize it.
This bill would end this preferential tax treatment and clarify that this gruesome practice is not care.
And we also have the chance to permanently stop the use of our foreign aid money from funding or promoting abortions overseas.
The Protecting Life in Foreign Assistance Act will save countless lives across the globe, and affirms the truth that the lives of all unborn children – regardless of where they are from – have dignity and worth.
Today, we can stand to allow all human beings – no matter their age, appearance, or abilities – a fair chance in the race of life.
We have only to remain loyal to that bedrock principle we claim to defend in the Declaration of Independence: the inalienable, fundamental right to life. The equal dignity, and immeasurable worth, of all human life.
I yield the floor.