HomeoldPro-lifers continue to make legislative gains in 2018 Legislative Session

Pro-lifers continue to make legislative gains in 2018 Legislative Session

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Pro-life advocates were highly engaged during the 2018 State Legislative session, introducing and/or passing numerous bills pertaining to various aspects of reproductive rights. These included the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Act, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Acts, bans on abortions based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome, limitations on state funding of abortion, and numerous other measures.
For context, it is worth noting that the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute described 2017 as follows:

States continued their assault on abortion in 2017, with 19 states adopting 63 new restrictions on abortion rights and access.

What about just the first three months of 2018?

By the end of the first quarter, five states had adopted 10 new abortion restrictions and 347 measures to restrict access to either abortion or contraception had been introduced in 37 states.

Dismemberment abortions

In April, Kentucky became the ninth state to enact a dismemberment ban, thereby prohibiting a particularly gruesome procedure that involves the tearing apart of a living unborn child limb from limb. The Bluegrass state joined Oklahoma, West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Kansas, Arkansas, and Texas in this endeavor.

Furthermore, seven additional states (Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, and South Carolina) introduced a dismemberment ban during the current legislative session. The bills are still active in Ohio and South Carolina, which suggests that at least one additional state may pass the ban before the legislature adjourns.

Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is already in effect in 16 states. The legislation protects unborn children who are capable of experiencing excruciating pain from being killed by abortion. Prof. Kanwaljeet “Sunny” Anand is an expert on fetal pain. In his writings, Prof. Anand asserts that the human fetus is capable of experiencing pain from 20 weeks of gestation, if not earlier. He further posits that the pain perceived by a fetus may be more intense than that experienced by term newborns or older children. This session, Missouri, New Jersey, and Oregon introduced pain-capable bills. In Missouri, the House overwhelmingly passed the measure 117-31.

There has been minimal progress in New Jersey and the bill was unsuccessful in Oregon. However, this legislation serves as an invaluable educational tool, as most individuals are unaware that the unborn child possesses all the physical structures necessary to experience pain. Furthermore, their hormonal reactions consistent with pain can be measured no later than 20 weeks post-fertilization age.

Another illustration of the beneficial impact of this legislation is the case of Oklahoma. Prior to the 2011 enactment of the Oklahoma Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, there were 1,378 abortions on fetuses of 16 weeks or greater in 2007. The most recent data from Oklahoma indicate that the number of abortions on fetuses of 16 weeks or greater decreased to 25 in 2016.

Combatting bias against babies with Down syndrome

In December, the state of Ohio enacted a ban on abortions on fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome prior to birth. Similar anti-discrimination abortion bans have been introduced in Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Utah, and Pennsylvania. In mid-April, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed its Down syndrome ban by a vote of 139-56. In Utah, the measure passed the House 54-17, but the session ended before it could receive a full Senate vote.


This session, Idaho became the fifth state to enact a law to amend its informed consent law to include information about abortion pill reversal (APR). The legislation requires abortionists to inform women about the possibility of reversing a chemical abortion prior to the woman taking the second drug in the abortion cocktail, which is a flood of progesterone. This creative legislation has the potential capacity to save so many unborn babies.

More informed consent

South Dakota took the initiative to amend its informed consent law in order to address the concerns that some had raised about the accuracy of the information being provided by abortion facilities alongside the state-mandated materials. Other states have also taken steps to improve the transparency of abortion reporting requirements, with Arizona, Idaho, and Indiana passing bills requiring that complications be reported. These bills were each signed into law by Governors Doug Ducey, Butch Otter, and Eric Holcomb, respectively.


Two states, Minnesota and Tennessee, have recently introduced bills that would allow pregnant women to view ultrasounds of their unborn children prior to undergoing an abortion. In Minnesota, S.F. 2849/H.F. 3194 has successfully passed the committee process and has been moved to the floors of the House and Senate. In Tennessee, the state’s House and Senate have passed their respective bills, and it is anticipated that the legislation will soon be presented to Governor Bill Haslam for his consideration.

Fetal homicide

Indiana changed its law to say that the unborn child is a victim of crime throughout pregnancy. Before, only unborn children who were born could be victims. Maryland had a similar bill. A hearing was held, but the bill didn’t pass before the legislature adjourned.

Helping mothers

The state of Florida has enacted legislation that permits pregnancy resource centers to apply for grants from the Department of Health. This will prove a beneficial instrument for expectant mothers who receive resources in order to assist them in carrying their babies to term. Indiana’s law also included the expansion of the safe haven baby boxes to firehouses. This allows new mothers to surrender newborns to hospitals, police stations, and similar facilities without facing any liability or interrogation.


In a recent development, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts signed a budget bill that reformed the manner in which federal Title X family planning grants are distributed. Entities seeking to receive Title X funding are now required to adhere to a legal, physical, and financial separation from any entity that performs or counsels for abortion. In a similar vein, Tennessee passed a funding bill that codified Governor Haslam’s 2011 policy, which prioritized funding for local health departments and away from abortion facilities.

Another Tennessee law signed by Gov. Haslam reiterated the state policy of favoring childbirth over elective abortions and allowed the state insurance to exclude payments to abortionists for elective abortions.

In a bold move, the West Virginia legislature passed resolution SJR 12, which provides that a constitutional amendment on abortion funding will be on the November 6 ballot. This is a historic moment for the state, as it marks a return to the days before the 1993 Panepinto state Supreme Court decision when tax dollars were not spent on willfully taking the life of the innocent. This is a policy with which most West Virginians disagree, and it is a step in the right direction for the state. In a bold move, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill that will revolutionize the way insurers offer coverage for maternity care.

The bill mandates that insurers must now offer coverage for elective abortions as well. This is a clear indication that the pro-abortion movement is gaining ground, and that abortion is no longer seen as a controversial topic. The pro-abortion lobby is also challenging laws in Maine and Montana that mandate that only a physician may perform abortions. This is a testament to the growing support for women’s reproductive rights. In Montana, a court has granted a temporary injunction that prohibits nurses from performing abortions. This is a great step forward in protecting the rights of women!

Those in favor of abortion rights cite a few legislative victories in 2018 as evidence of their success. However, it is to be expected that the abortion lobby would do so, given that it has promised since the Supreme Court’s 2016 Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision struck down several common-sense Texas laws that it would be targeting state pro-life laws.
In contrast, those who are pro-life have had far more legislative successes in passing laws to protect both the mother and the child. It is evident that pro-life legislation has a positive impact. Recently, it has been reported that abortion rates have reached historic lows in Kansas and Utah. In South Carolina, the number of abortions decreased by 10% in 2017, contributing to an overall decline of over 63% since 1988.

It is crucial to maintain this momentum and continue striving to protect unborn babies and their mothers.


Daniel Miller is responsible for nearly all of National Right to Life News' political writing.

With the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, Daniel Miller developed a deep obsession with U.S. politics that has never let go of the political scientist. Whether it's the election of Joe Biden, the midterm elections in Congress, the abortion rights debate in the Supreme Court or the mudslinging in the primaries - Daniel Miller is happy to stay up late for you.

Daniel was born and raised in New York. After living in China, working for a news agency and another stint at a major news network, he now lives in Arizona with his two daughters.

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