As soon as Republicans took control of the Legislature and governorship in Wisconsin, we hit the ground running to advance pro-life causes and protect the most vulnerable among us.

In our first budget, we defunded Planned Parenthood. We said we would no longer allow state resources to be used to kill the unborn and to be laundered into Democratic candidates’ campaign coffers in the name of women’s health. To this day, we still continue our efforts to ensure taxpayer dollars are not misused to advance the sinister and devastating movement to murder babies across this state.

Science now tells us that when babies are ripped from their mothers’ wombs, they feel every bit of it. Last session, we in Wisconsin worked to protect the unborn who are old enough to feel pain. Now, any baby 20 weeks post fertilization or older will not have to suffer the excruciating and unimaginable pain of an abortion thanks to a law passed by the state Legislature and signed by Governor Scott Walker. It was my honor to co-author this bill, usher it through the health committee and vote for it on the floor of the state Senate.

We must acknowledge the fact that unborn babies are humans who have the same God-given rights and are owed the same protections under the Constitution that we enjoy. The strong devotion to life and to the Constitution that we have in Wisconsin is unfortunately not found in the U.S. Senate, where these significant, commonsense bills to protect life lack priority. Disgracefully, these important reforms are stalled and may never come to life.

The House recently passed a bill to strip Planned Parenthood of all federal funds. It also passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. But due to the 60-vote threshold this bill needs to pass, it is unlikely to become law, an all too familiar fate.  

As we’ve seen time and time again, there are not enough unafraid, unapologetic, unwavering fighters in the Senate to stand up and make a difference. It’s simply not enough to say you are pro-life. Actions speak louder than empty words. Sadly, some senators are not interested in backing up their campaign trail rhetoric by boldly representing their constituents. They prefer gridlock and dysfunction, and this is particularly true when it comes to defending life. All too often, those with political ambitions exploit the pro-life platform for their campaigns then get weak-kneed when it truly matters.

Not just any Republican candidate will do for Wisconsin in next year’s Senate election. We need the right candidate. It would be irresponsible for us to roll the dice on someone we don’t know, someone who hasn’t proven himself or herself, or even someone who has supported abortion on the national stage before. The stakes are too high. We need a definitive pro-life vote, someone who knows how we did it in Wisconsin and can take that same record of wins to Washington.

Wisconsinites can count on me to fight for the unborn. When I was a young nurse, some of my peers were shocked to find out I was pro-life. “How can you be pro-life and a nurse?” they actually asked me. But to me, it was a no-brainer. It was my calling as a nurse to save lives that emboldened my pro-life stance. I’ve been focused on that mission my whole life, and I won’t stop. Not now, not ever.

Leah Vukmir is a nurse, military mom and state senator from Brookfield, Wis. She is a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2018.