Categories: Legislation

A first look at 2014 pro-life state legislation


By Dave Andrusko

“Shifting strategies for state abortion battles in 2014” is the headline on a story in POLITICO written by Natalie Villacorta. I think it would be worth our while to take a few minutes to look at her analysis, given that as we approach the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we’ll read a slew of these “here’s-what-to-look-for” stories.

Her second and third paragraphs are a good (although not sufficient) jumping off point. She writes

“Rather than bans that directly challenge Roe v. Wade, many states are again going for more incremental measures that address the physical space requirements of clinics, physicians’ qualifications and the use of certain procedures. The move is hardly a retreat, abortion opponents say, but rather a strategic decision that they expect could be nearly as effective in less time. Compared to broader moves, restrictions that are more narrowly drawn often pass judicial muster.”

Although this hardly exhausts the range of pro-life legislation, this wouldn’t be a “retreat,” strategic or otherwise, for National Right to Life and its Department of state legislation.

NRL and its 50 state affiliates specialize in passing legislation that protects unborn babies to the maximum extent possible; protects their mothers from the likes of Kermit Gosnell and Timothy Liveright (see “Delaware Board of Medical Licensure & Discipline to hold closed hearing to discussed former Planned Parenthood abortionist Timothy Liveright”); and educates pregnant women and the wider public to the marvelous complexity of the unborn child’s developmental journey (see “A Baby’s First Months” brochure in stock and ready to be ordered).

Unfortunately, Villacorta pays insufficient attention to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which is on the books in 10 states and which has already passed the United States House of Representatives. It is difficult to exaggerate the potential of this measure to reorient the abortion debate.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act invites not just legislators (and governors) to consider something most people would prefer to avoid at all costs: the truth that at some juncture, the unborn child has developed to the point where she experiences pain.

Citing a considerable body of medical evidence, The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act offers protection to unborn children beginning at 20 weeks fetal age (equivalent to “22 weeks of pregnancy”), the beginning of the sixth month.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is grounded in a moral empathy that resonates loudly with the American people: “You don’t kill unborn children who are capable of feeling pain.”

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act turns the table on pro-abortionists who are forever telling us that pro-lifers want to “take us back.” In fact what makes the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act so dangerous to Roe v. wade is that it demands precisely the opposite. Rather than freezing our understanding of fetal development at what was available to the U.S. Supreme Court nearly 41 years ago, the bill says, “Come, let’s see what we know now what we didn’t know then.”

The polls that have been taken show strong support for such legislation. Can we not also rightly ask ourselves that if the public does not approve of killing unborn babies capable of feeling pain (now that they are learning the unborn CAN experience pain), would they accept aborting a child if they knew abortion stops a beating heart?

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