WASHINGTON – Today, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the federation of 50 state right-to-life affiliates and more than 3,000 local chapters, released its third annual report examining The State of Abortion in the United States. The report summarizes key legislative developments at the state and federal level, finds that the annual number of abortions continues to decline, and shows that a majority of Americans continue to oppose the vast majority of abortions allowed under the doctrine of Roe v. Wade.
“Even after seven years of pro-abortion policies from the Obama Administration, the right-to-life movement is making tremendous gains on behalf of mothers and their unborn children,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “As the November election approaches, the right-to-life movement stands ready to protect our pro-life majorities in Congress and elect a pro-life president.”
As detailed in the National Right to Life report, recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that the annual number of abortions continues to decline. The most recent CDC report, released in November 2015, found that in the 47 jurisdictions that volunteered data, there was a 4.2% drop in the number of abortions from 2011 to 2012.
The report also provides analysis of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s annual report, which covers a one-year period ending June 30, 2015. National Right to Life’s analysis finds that while the nation’s largest abortion provider performed slightly fewer abortions than the previous year, their abortion business is still a major cornerstone of their billion dollar empire.
The Planned Parenthood annual report covers the period ending just before videos from The Center for Medical Progress surfaced that exposed the harvesting and trafficking of baby body parts, often involving Planned Parenthood affiliates.
The Planned Parenthood videos underscore the need for enactment of two of National Right to Life’s top legislative priorities: the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act.
The State of Abortion in the United States details efforts to pass the bills at both the state and federal level. Twelve states have passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, whichwould generally protect unborn children from abortion beginning at 20 weeks fetal age (the start of the sixth month), based on their capacity by that point, if not earlier, to experience excruciating pain. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a version of the bill, based on the National Right to Life model legislation, on May 13, 2015, 242-184. In a nearly party line 54-42 vote in September, Senate Democrats blocked consideration of the bill. (60 votes were needed to take the bill up for debate.)
Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act
During the spring state legislative session, Kansas and Oklahoma became the first two states to enact National Right to Life’s model legislation prohibiting the use of dismemberment abortions.
On September 15, 2015, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) introduced the Dismemberment Abortion Ban Act (H.R. 3515), based on the National Right to Life model.
The federal bill would prohibit nationally the performance of “dismemberment abortion,” defined as “with the purpose of causing the death of an unborn child, knowingly dismembering a living unborn child and extracting such unborn child one piece at a time or intact but crushed from the uterus through the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors or similar instruments that, through the convergence of two rigid levers, slice, crush or grasp a portion of the unborn child’s body in order to cut or rip it off or crush it.”
“Dismemberment abortion kills a baby by tearing her apart limb from limb,” said National Right to Life Director of State Legislation Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D. “Before the first trimester ends, the unborn child has a beating heart, brain waves, and every organ system in place. Dismemberment abortions occur after the baby has reached these milestones.”
D&E dismemberment abortions are as brutal as the partial-birth abortion method, which is now illegal in the United States.
In his dissent to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2000 Stenberg v. Carhart decision, Justice Kennedy observed that in D&E dismemberment abortions, “The fetus, in many cases, dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb. The fetus can be alive at the beginning of the dismemberment process and can survive for a time while its limbs are being torn off.” Justice Kennedy added in the Court’s 2007 opinion, Gonzales v. Carhart, which upheld the ban on partial-birth abortion, that D&E abortions are “laden with the power to devalue human life…”
Background materials on the bill are available on the National Right to Life website.
Included in the background materials is the testimony of Anthony Levatino, M.D., before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice in May 2013, in which he described in great detail the D&E dismemberment abortions he once performed.
The State of Abortion in the United States report is available from the National Right to Life Communications Department at www.nrlc.org/uploads/communications/stateofabortion2016.pdf.