By Ingrid Duran, Director, NRLC Department of State Legislation
Editor’s note. This appeared in the current digital edition of National Right to Life News. Please be sure to share the contents of the latest issue of the “pro-life newspaper of record” with pro-life family and friends
Pro-life activists started the 2017 legislative session on a high note with the passage of Ohio’s Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (PCUCPA) in December of 2016. From there moving forward the action was virtually nonstop with many victories accomplished and the groundwork done for future breakthroughs as well. The following is an overview of the very considerable achievements which were primarily the fruit of the work of NRLC’s state affiliates.
Kentucky would soon follow Ohio. Within the first week of their session they initiated and soon passed their own PCUCPA. In so doing Kentucky became the sixteenth state to pass a law protecting from abortion the unborn child when they have reached a stage where medical science demonstrates they are capable of experiencing pain.
With both houses controlled by pro-life Republicans and with a new pro-life Republican governor, Kentucky also passed National Right to Life Committee’s model legislation on ultrasound display, in addition to a law that prioritized the types of medical centers that receive Title X funding.
Under this plan, states create a hierarchy of provider classifications, and distribute funds from the top category first, then to the second, third, etc., giving preference to full service health providers. This has been a successful way to significantly reduce funding for abortion giants like Planned Parenthood.
Besides Kentucky two other states moved to stop funding the abortion industry. Iowa set aside about $3.3 million in state funds to recreate its own family planning network so that it can prohibit the funding of clinics that provide abortions. In August, South Carolina’s Governor Henry McMaster issued an executive order preventing state and local funds from subsidizing abortion facilities.
Two states, Arkansas and Texas, passed a ban on gruesome dismemberment abortions, raising to eight the number of states that ban tearing living unborn children limb from limb. The Texas dismemberment ban also included provisions banning partial-birth abortions and regulations to require dignified treatment of the remains of aborted babies.
During the 2017 session, four states passed one or another type of informed consent provision. In addition to Kentucky, Iowa also passed an ultrasound law along with a seventy-two hour waiting period. Now women in Iowa are given the opportunity to view the ultrasound, and receive a booklet with information on abortion risks, alternatives to abortions, and local resources that can help a woman carry her baby to term.
Wyoming passed two new pro-life laws, the first in 28 years, one of them to offer women a chance to view an ultrasound of their baby.
Utah became the fourth state to amend their informed consent law to provide women with the information that it is possible to halt a chemical abortion, provided the woman does not take the second of the two drugs that make up the chemical abortion regimen.
Indiana and West Virginia both amended their parental involvement laws in order to strengthen their state law and close any loopholes. In West Virginia for instance, prior to the change, the abortionist could waive the requirement that notified the parent.
Three states enacted laws in an effort to assist pregnant mothers. Georgia amended their Positive Alternatives for Pregnancy program which provides expectant mothers with life-affirming resources and promoting healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.
Oklahoma also passed the Choosing Childbirth Act which directs the state department of health to create grants for pregnancy resource centers that aid pregnant mothers and their unborn children. As part of an omnibus bill, Minnesota passed a healthcare bill which provides helpful information for pregnant students about their legal rights and resources in order to assist them as a parent pursuing higher education.
Pregnancy resource centers have been increasingly under attack by the pro-abortion lobby. (See below.) Sometimes when a state does not have an adequate Woman’s Right to Know/Informed Consent law, pregnancy resource centers provide helpful information to expectant mothers on the baby’s development and many times are able to provide an ultrasound for free.
Both Missouri and Texas passed prolife laws during their special session. As part of Missouri’s omnibus bill, their state Attorney General now has equal jurisdiction with the local prosecutor to enforce prolife laws.
In addition HCS SB 5 also provides for annual unannounced abortion clinic inspections; whistleblower protection for employees of abortion clinics who choose to speak out; an abortion complication reports; protection for pregnancy resource centers and faith communities from being forced to participate in abortions.
Texas passed four prolife bills in their special session: a law that removes elective abortion from standard private health insurance coverage; a requirement that consent be obtained from the patient or surrogate before most Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders may be written; reporting requirements for abortion complications; and another law on reforming their existing reporting requirements on abortions.
Pro-lifers were also able to defeat the multi-state efforts to legalize doctor-prescribed killing. Measures defeated this year include those in Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, New York, Rhode island, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming.
The passage of at least forty bills in eighteen states is grounds for a deep appreciation for readers like you who stay connected with NRLC and our state offices and who call and/or write your representatives and ask their support. You fill the halls and show up to the legislative hearings. This is the reason why at the end of each session it’s a collective victory for us, because of the concerted effort from pro-lifers everywhere in order to speak out on behalf of the unborn.
While this number does not reflect the countless hours of hard work put in by pro-lifers in every state, even if in those states where it may have been difficult to get a prolife law passed in the 2017 session, we also know this is not the end. There is a vibrant energy in the prolife movement that confirms what we already know: we take both our wins and losses of the past session, we learn and apply the lesson, we move forward knowing we are making a difference, and we never ever give up.