Categories: NRLC

A Conversation with Mary Spaulding Balch, Director of NRLC’s Department of State Legislation

NRLC State Legislative Director Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D.

By Dave Andrusko

Over the course of the year NRL News Today will frequently update you on pro-life legislation as it works its way through the state legislatures. We talked today with Mary Spaulding Balch, JD, who directs NRLC’s Department of State Legislation.

Her office is on call to NRLC’s 50 state affiliates 24/7, so our conversation was sandwiched in between phone calls to help states polish their initiatives and craft plans to deflect anti-life initiatives.

Mary explained that 2012 is the second year of a two-year cycle, so there is greater attention played to fiscal matters. “But it’s obvious that state legislators care about the unborn child by the number of bills introduced,” she told me. “It will be a busy legislative year.”

Although she would have wished for a different outcome, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act was defeated in the Virginia Senate and referred to a study committee in the House. “This was the first time the legislature has looked at this bill,” Mary said. “Traditionally, the Commonwealth does not act on pro-life bills the first time.”

But this hugely important initiative, which would protect from abortion unborn babies capable of feeling pain, has been or soon will be introduced elsewhere. In Michigan, for example, West Virginia, and Georgia. And it has already passed out of one subcommittee in Florida, Balch said.

A bill to require an ultrasound before a mother has an abortion has already passed on house in Virginia. It has also passed out of a house subcommittee in Pennsylvania and has 113 co-sponsors. Alabama and Kentucky have bills that require that the ultrasound image be displayed. 

Why are ultrasounds important, I asked? “They are a window to the womb,” Balch said. “They have a marvelous capacity to educate the public just how much a member of the human family the unborn child is.”

Another important initiative in the states is to deal with Planned Parenthood’s relentless campaign to increase the number of abortions by providing “web cam abortions.” Bills in states such as Alabama, Indiana, and Michigan require that the abortionist be physically present, not hundreds of miles away and “connected” to the woman only via a screen.

“PPFA knows how important webcam abortions are—to their abortion agenda and to their bottom line,” Balch said. She reminded me of the policy directive that came from the national headquarters—that all branches must provide abortions–“They likely mean the two-drug RU486 chemical cocktail.”

Having a mother take pills at a satellite office not only brings abortion to rural areas, Balch pointed out, “it doesn’t require same time, effort, or money.” There are no licensed physicians on site, only lower level practitioners who keep an eye on the woman taking the chemical abortifacients.

Balch noted that funding was a big issue in 2011 and will be a huge issue in 2012. “And the reason is simple,” Balch said. “Speaking through their state legislators, the American people are saying they do not want their tax dollars being used to support abortion providers.”

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