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Senator James Lankford, R-OK, speaks at a press conference September 22, 2015.Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — Late-term abortion “is not who we are as a nation,” a leading pro-life Senator told reporters today.

Senator James Lankford, R-OK, two other pro-life Senators, and several pro-life leaders spoke at a press conference to promote the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which would ban most abortions after 20 weeks' gestation. The bill itself failed shortly after the press conference by not gaining the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Democratic filibuster.

The vote was 54-42. One Republican, Mark Kirk of Illinois, voted against the 20-week ban. Three Democrats voted in favor.

Lankford, whose bill to temporarily defund Planned Parenthood is also expected to be voted on today, mentioned a family friend whose child was born at 20 weeks' gestation.

According to the senator, “it's not a matter of how tall they are…that's a living child. This bill does something that we would consider noncontroversial — when a child can experience pain, shouldn't we protect the life of that child?”

“We believe that that's a basic principle that we should agree to as a nation.”

Lankford spoke after Sen. Steve Daines, R-MT, and Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC.

Daines said that majority support for late-term abortion bans exists “because [people] are discovering, thanks to technology, what a 20-week baby looks like.”

Graham, a GOP presidential candidate, introduced the 20-week ban in June. He praised Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, for bringing the bill to the floor, and told LifeSiteNews during the conference, “I wish there were someone on the Democratic side that would feel comfortable saying, 'I'm okay with this bill.'”

“Most Americans are,” in favor of the bill, said the senator, who afterwards told LifeSiteNews that if Republicans want to keep the Senate — 24 of 33 seats up for re-election are GOP-held, because of the Republican sweep of 2010 — the 20-week ban will make the goal easier.

“I would showcase this [bill] if I was holding my seat,” said Graham. “This issue is a good issue. If you're running for an open seat, you should raise this bill. If your opponent's against this bill, they're going to have trouble.”

“Embrace this bill, and you'll have a good chance of winning.”

The star of the event was three-year old Micah Pickering. Born at 20 weeks' gestation, Micah energetically chewed on a Capitol Visitors Center pass as his father held him at the press conference. His mother, Danielle, spoke briefly, saying that “my family and I traveled all the way from Iowa to be here as a witness to the truth that unborn children – at the very least those born at 20 weeks fetal age – can experience pain and deserve the protection of the law.”

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“These babies can feel pain,” said Danielle. “I could see the pain my son experienced when he was in intensive care at 22 weeks. He was very sick. The doctors at our hospital recognized that he was suffering and kept him medicated so that he would not feel excruciating pain.”

The press conference was moderated by Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser. Other speakers included Ovide Lamontagne of Americans United for Life, Carol Tobias from National Right to Life Committee, Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America, Jeanne Mancini from March for Life, and Arina Grossu of the Family Research Council.

Dannenfelser said, “The United States, proud of our history of defending human rights…ranks among the last in the world when it comes to some of our most vulnerable children.” According to the pro-life leader, “this ongoing national conversation presents Americans with a very clear choice: there are those who stand up for the most innocent among us, and those who continue to defend a scandal-ridden abortion business and an extreme platform of abortion-on-demand, for any reason, up until the moment of birth, at taxpayers' expense.”

Lamontange said that “limiting abortion at five months of pregnancy is the bare minimum a humane society can provide infants facing a torturous death, and perhaps also facing dismemberment so that their bodies can be sold for parts, while protecting women from the harms of late-term abortion.”

The failed bill is the same version that passed the House in May after four months of acrimonious internal debate in the GOP. Pro-life leaders have said it will take a pro-life president and a pro-life Congress to push the bill into law.