Dear Oklahoma friends and neighbors:

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…. But there is a great deal of work still going on in DC right now. This was a historic week in Washington, DC, and I want to take a moment to update you on some of the work. 

Congress once again fought over short-term government funding with the words “government shutdown” on our airwaves again. Democrats in the Senate and House found a temporary agreement to extend government funding until February. I joined a group of Republicans in the Senate to push back against funding Biden’s vaccine mandates and other wasteful spending in the short-term funding. I have been on the Senate floor and on the phone this week fighting the vaccine mandate, especially for the members of our National Guard. 

I will keep pushing back against Democrats’ efforts to spend us into more inflation and more debt. I remain opposed to the Democrats’ Build Back “Broke” bill with trillions in new reckless spending that will add to high inflation and add more debt. That bill is still with the Senate Parliamentarian being reviewed for the many violations of Senate rules included in the text.

After months of fighting with the Administration over the chaos at our southern border, this week I was able to secure a big win. The Biden Administration announced it will dramatically change the asylum process at our border. Starting next week, most asylum seekers will have to remain in Mexico as they await their hearing, which ends the Biden “catch and release” immigration policy. I’m still working to stop the absurd $450,000 settlement payments the Biden team wants to pay to migrants who crossed our southern border during the Trump Administration.

The National Defense Authorization is still not finished, but progress has been made this week by Senator Inhofe, who is the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee. I stand firmly behind our military, and I am committed to protecting their families, training opportunities, and rights.

And on the vaccine mandate, we secured Senator Manchin to support our resolution of disapproval to overturn President Biden’s vaccine mandate for private business. This vote will happen in the days ahead and is a huge win for employees across the country.

As I said before, there is a lot going on at the Capitol. I will keep you updated as these bills work through way through the process over the next several weeks.

Across the street at the Supreme Court, there was also quite a bit of action on the Dobbs case from Mississippi. I wanted to spend most of this week’s “Lankford Letter” explaining why this case is so important:

Standing for Life at the Supreme Court

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in potentially the most consequential case for human rights in 48 years, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The Court heard arguments from the Mississippi Solicitor General on behalf of Thomas Dobbs, the State Health Officer of the Mississippi Department of Health and from attorneys representing, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The fight is about a Mississippi state law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of gestation. 

This case provides the Court with an opportunity to revisit the now infamous ruling in Roe v. Wade.

In Roe, the Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that the Constitution guarantees the right to have an abortion until a child is determined “viable,” which was not defined then and which science has now established as a time very early in a pregnancy. The issue of abortion is very divisive in our culture, but this is an issue that was not resolved by Roe v. Wade. It was only made even more volatile.  

In the last 48 years, because of Roe, 62 million children have died by abortion in America. That is equivalent to losing the combined populations of Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Rhode island, Maine, New Hampshire, Hawaii, West Virginia, Idaho, Nebraska, New Mexico, Kansas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Nevada, Iowa, Utah, Connecticut, Oregon, Kentucky, Louisiana, Alabama, and Oklahoma.

For some, abortion is about “choice” and “court precedent,” rather than children. I stand firmly on the side of the children in this debate. On Tuesday, during my speech on the Senate floor, I quoted Psalm 41:1, which says, ‘Blessed are those who have regard for the weak.’

I led members of the Senate Republican Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday to stand for life and to remind Americans that when a pregnancy test comes up “positive” it means that there is a baby in the womb, not just random “tissue.” This is not an argument about convenience. It is an argument over children. I have fought hard in the US Senate to protect the lives of the unborn, protect taxpayers from being forced to pay for abortions, and protect the conscience rights of healthcare providers. This week, it was the Supreme Court’s turn to protect the rights of the unborn. You can watch my remarks on the Senate floor in support of life HERE.

What is the Dobbs case, and why does it matter?

In 2018, Mississippi enacted the Gestational Age Act, which limits abortion to 15 weeks of gestation except in a medical emergency or what’s known as “severe fetal abnormality.” The Jackson Women’s Health abortion clinic in Mississippi sued the state over the law, and federal courts said the law violated a precedent set in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that the government couldn't place an “undue burden” on access to abortion, a line abortionists have used to block many state laws that seek to protect women and children.

Babies at 15 weeks, the time Mississippi says should be the time limit to receive an abortion, have fingers, toes, a nervous system, and a heartbeat. They can suck their thumb and even are already right or left hand dominant. They are human beings who are very much alive and should never be discarded as “tissue.”

The Supreme Court has fixed its mistakes before.

In December of 1952 and again in 1953, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the legality of segregation brought by the Brown family from Topeka, Kansas. The Brown family was fighting against legalized segregation. At that time, segregation was fully protected by the Court’s decision in Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1896 under what became known as the disgraceful “separate but equal” legal standard, which haunted our nation for more than half a century until it the Court fixed it in Brown v. Board of Education. The nation still celebrates the Court righting that wrong in its decision to reverse “separate but equal.” I believe we will celebrate in the days ahead when the court made right the wrong created in Roe.

I understand that I have a Biblical worldview, and I believe every person is created in the image of God. Not everyone in Oklahoma shares my view of God and my faith. But I also firmly look at the science of life. The science is crystal clear to anyone who is willing to get past the talking points and actually look into the womb. At the moment of fertilization a new and distinct human being comes into existence. The child’s DNA is different than the mom’s DNA. In fact, it’s the only tissue in her body that has distinctly different DNA because it is a different person. Abortion is not just a medical procedure. It's the taking of a human life.

I talked this week with an abortion survivor—one of thousands. Her name is Melissa Ohden. She is founder of Abortion Survivors Network (ASN) and is now in her 40s with children of her own. Melissa survived a botched abortion and was actually delivered alive during an abortion procedure. Her tiny body was taken by a nurse to the NICU of a hospital and she is alive and thriving today. You can hear my conversation with Melissa about her story of life and surviving an abortion HERE. It was remarkable to sit and talk with a person in my office who survived an abortion and see again that abortion is about real people.  

The Court decision that led to the death of 62 million children is what needs to be discarded.

Overturning Roe does not end abortion in America. It just allows each state to decide how they will protect the lives of children in the womb. Prior to 1973, each state had its own laws on abortion. In the future, we could have a patchwork of laws about abortion across the country, just like we do right now on homicide. In some states like Oklahoma, if a pregnant mother and her child are killed, the perpetrator faces two charges of murder—one for the mom, one for the baby. In other states, the law is different and only the mother is recognized as a victim.

I really believe, in the decades ahead, our nation will look back on the past 48 years of elective abortion with grief. In 1830, southern slave owners denied humanity to their slaves. In 1900, men denied women the right to vote. During World War II, the US rounded up Japanese Americans and put them into camps. All three of those were considered legal and appropriate at the time. Many fought changing all three of those decisions. Today, we see all three as national embarrassments. 

There was a time when the Court ruled “separate but equal” was somehow considered justice, but we realized six decades after the Plessy v. Ferguson case that ending segregation was actually justice in the Brown v. Board of Education case. I look forward to the Court deciding to fix the mistake they made in Roe v. Wade and turn our hearts back to our children, no matter how small.

For now, we wait six months to hear the decision from the Supreme Court. They will most likely release their opinion in June of 2022. 

In God We Trust,
James Lankford
United States Senator for Oklahoma

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