By Ingrid Duran, Senior State Legislative Associate
While most state legislatures have adjourned for the year, the pro-life community remains hard at work assisting in passing last- minute legislation before the 2011 legislative session ends.
Just three days before Christmas, pro-life Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a bill into law preventing taxpayers from having to pay for abortion coverage under the health insurance exchanges required under ObamaCare.
Formally known as the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care,” one of the provisions of ObamaCare requires the States to operate and maintain “health insurance exchanges.” However ObamaCare specifically allows States to affirmatively prohibit coverage of abortions under the qualified health plans offered through the exchanges. This is what Ohio did when it “opted out” December 22.
Ohio’s new law means that in 2011, a total of nine states passed laws opting out of abortion coverage in the state-based insurance exchanges. Altogether a total of fourteen states now have opt-out laws: Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoman, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.
In November, Gov. Kasich also signed a law that amended the judicial bypass section in the Ohio Parental Consent law so as to lessen the likelihood that judges will rubber-stamp requests by minor girls who wish not to tell their parents they are seeking an abortion. Judges will have to use a “clear and convincing evidence” standard that the minor girl is mature enough to make the decision on her own.
As the year comes to an end, pro-lifers should rejoice that in 2011 more than 30 measures were enacted to protect unborn children and ensure that women are able to exercise a truly informed consent. Following Nebraska’s lead, four states this year– Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, and Oklahoma–now protect from abortion unborn children who are capable of feeling pain.
Understanding the need for women to be able to exercise a true informed consent, five states enacted or amended their existing ultrasound laws.
North Carolina and Texas enacted an ultrasound law which displays the active image of the unborn child prior to an abortion. Arizona and Florida amended their existing ultrasound laws, which provide the mother with an opportunity to view her unborn child. It now covers all unborn children, not just babies later in pregnancy. Indiana amended its ultrasound law to remove the burden that was placed on the mother where she had to request the ultrasound but never told of its availability.
Five states responded to Planned Parenthood’s mounting use of “Web-Cam” chemical abortions. Rather than meeting the abortionist in person, a pregnant woman converses with him long-distance via webcam before receiving the two drugs that make up the RU486 abortion technique.
RU486 is dangerous enough in its own right. Fourteen women are known to have died after taking RU486 in the United States since 2000, according to the FDA, and thousands of women have suffered complications. Not having the abortionist onsite makes the abortion even more dangerous.
In response Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Tennessee passed laws this year to protect pregnant women by requiring the abortionist to be in the same room instead of at a different location, miles away from the mother.
In both New Hampshire and North Carolina, the legislature overrode a governor’s veto in order to pass quality pro-life legislation.
New Hampshire enacted a parental notification law and North Carolina enacted a Woman’s Right to Know law. The latter provides real informed consent twenty-four hours prior to an abortion being performed: mothers now have alternatives presented to them, ultrasounds displayed, and factual, scientific information on the developing unborn child at different stages of development presented.
Four states–Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota–enacted a coercion ban. These laws require abortion clinics to inform the pregnant woman that it is illegal to force her to have an abortion regardless of her relationship to the father, or if she is a minor. As pro-life Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said when he signed his state’s measure, “Women deserve to know their legal rights and the protections already afforded to them under the law.”
The 2011 legislative session is another strong indication that pro-lifers remained determined to educate others on the humanity of the unborn child and the dangers of abortion, lobby our legislators and elect pro-life leaders in order to give unborn children a voice.