I recently had the opportunity to meet a little boy named Micah Pickering while he and his family were visiting Washington. Micah has an incredible story. He was born at 22 weeks and spent four long months in intensive care. He overcame many obstacles, and now he’s a happy, healthy kindergartener.
Thanks to amazing advancements in neonatal medicine, premature babies like Micah have a fighting chance to survive and grow. They are treated as patients, and special care is given to reduce their pain and increase their chances for survival, just as it should be. Unfortunately, while still unborn, those same babies have no protections against harm or right to life under the law. I want to change that, which is why I was proud to support the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, or Micah’s Law, when it passed the House of Representatives this past week. This legislation would restrict abortions after 20 weeks, or at the sixth month, of pregnancy. That’s the point at which research increasingly shows an unborn child can feel pain.
Many people don’t like discussing abortion, and I don’t blame them. It’s an ugly subject that is difficult to talk about, but, as a member of Congress, I believe it is my responsibility to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. I spoke out on the House floor in support of the bill and against Democratic attempts to stop it from moving forward. What’s the difference, I asked, between a baby at six months born outside the womb and a baby at six months inside the womb? How can one be treated like the miracle they are created to be and the other be treated like medical waste? If a baby like Micah can survive and grow up to live a normal life given the proper care, shouldn’t we give other babies like him the same protection and chance to live?
Some of my colleagues on the other side of this issue kept calling our bill “extreme,” but I say to oppose it is extreme. If we won’t restrict abortions at the sixth month of pregnancy when a baby feels pain, when will we stop them? We have to draw the line somewhere.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act passed by a vote of 237-189 and now goes to the Senate where it awaits further consideration. I sincerely hope the Senate will take up our bill and pass it without delay. The White House has issued a statement of support for our bill, indicating that President Trump will sign it into law if it reaches his desk.
So often we get caught up in the politics of this issue and we forget that these are babies we’re talking about. They feel pain, and I believe we should protect them. It’s no secret that I’m unapologetically pro-life, and I oppose abortion at any stage. I will always fight to grant greater protections for life under the law. However, as a society, it is my prayer that we will start assigning greater value to life in this country.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama with her husband Riley and their two children.