Empowering Women, Protecting the Unborn

May 13, 2015

“We want to empower every single individual to reach their full potential. That is why I am here: to stand as a fierce protector of that life.”

WASHINGTON, DC – House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) delivered the following statement in advance of the House vote today on H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which will establish federal legal protection for unborn children at 20 weeks, with exceptions to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest. The bill passed the House shortly after the Chairwoman’s remarks. 


Chair McMorris Rodgers, Remarks as Prepared for Delivery:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. And among these rights, are the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The bill before the House today affirms what the majority of American believe: that over halfway through a pregnancy, an unborn baby deserves the full protection of the law and the Constitution.

“As a mother of three, and as a legislator, I believe every life has the right to reach its full potential. We live in an extraordinary time in which we’re not bound by the conditions of our birth. We are not set to circumstances. And we should not be defined by what limits us, but empowered by what we can become. As lawmakers, it’s our responsibility to make sure our laws reflect that. Medical science continues to evolve to create greater potential for life. Emerging research is challenging what we previously thought to be true about the earliest stages of life. Just last week, the New York Times highlighted a study that showed a growing number of premature infants surviving after the point at which this bill would make abortion illegal.

“As a society, we need to ask whether we want to move forward with a better standard of living, or if we want to rely on the outdated scientific research of the past. I want to legislate for the future – and the future will be defined by how we use the advancements taking place today to protect and improve human life. Those who represent the future are already there. According to a recent pole, 57% of Millennials support this bill – and they echo the voice of America. Sixty percent of Americans – Democrats, Republicans, and independents – support the Pain Capable Act. 

“Abortion is really a symptom of larger challenges that exist in our society – and these challenges demand the attention of lawmakers. Pretending there is a one-size-fits-all approach to abortion ignores the complex circumstances that surround each woman who is forced to consider choosing abortion. This bill recognizes that at the halfway point of a pregnancy, those circumstances are increasingly more unique. Research shows that abortion becomes riskier to a woman’s health the later it occurs in pregnancy. We should not trivialize the decision to undertake an abortion at 20 weeks by suggesting it should be made without additional medical or emotional support. 

“We should write laws that empower women to make these decisions. We should support laws that show compassion for women. We should trust individuals to make the best choices for themselves. We want to empower every single individual to reach their full potential. This country has made great strides in empowering all people, no matter where they started. That is why I am here: to stand as a fierce protector of that life. The human rights and dignity of all people should be reflected in every piece of legislation we bring to the floor. 

“This bill asks us to consider whether we are a society that will tolerate abortion at any point of development, even though we know babies can begin to feel pain at 20 weeks and survive outside the womb. This bill asks us to consider if it is compassionate to maintain a regime that does nothing to offer emotional and medical support for a woman facing the difficult decision of choosing an abortion over halfway through her pregnancy. These are questions that we must ask. And I am prepared to answer them by supporting the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. I urge my colleagues to reject the Motion to Recommit.”

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