Skip to content

Ernst: At 20 weeks, an unborn child is in every way a child, capable of feeling pain

At Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Ernst stands up for life, shares the story of an Iowan

WASHINGTON – Today, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a fierce defender of life, questioned witnesses and shared the remarkable story of Micah Pickering, a native of Newton, Iowa.

Micah was born prematurely at 20 weeks—the age at which the legislation would prohibit abortions. During the hearing, Ernst explained how at 20 weeks, “the humanity of Baby Micah was undeniable.” She went on to explain that while Micah is a healthy, energetic 6-year-old boy, his story “is not an isolated incident, and that it is a “a powerful testament to the fact that at five months of development, an unborn child is in every way a child, capable of feeling pain and growing up to live a full and happy life.”

Click here to watch Senator Ernst share Micah’s story.  

During the hearing, Ernst questioned Dr. Donna Harrison, Executive Director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She posed questions to Dr. Harrison on her experiences with babies at the gestational age of 20 weeks.


The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would prohibit abortion after about five months post-fertilization, the point in development that science has shown unborn children can feel pain. As an original cosponsor of the bill, Senator Ernst has consistently called on her colleagues to support the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

The Iowa Senator has led the fight to defund Planned Parenthood and redirect taxpayer funds to women’s health care and eligible entities like community health centers, which provide greater health care services but do not provide abortions.

In 2017 she championed legislation that was signed into law by President Trump that overturned an eleventh-hour rule issued by the Obama administration, and restored decisions about the best eligible Title X providers to the states.