By Ingrid Duran, State Legislative Director
Pro-lifers were very active during the 2018 State Legislative session, introducing and/or passing many bills ranging from the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Act to Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Acts to bans on abortions based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome to limiting state funding of abortion, and everything in between.
For background, here is how the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute described 2017:
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.
In April Kentucky became the 9th state to enact a dismemberment ban, thereby banning a horrific procedure that a horrific procedure that tears apart a living unborn child, limb from limb. The Bluegrass state joined Oklahoma; West Virginia; Mississippi; Alabama; Louisiana; Kansas; Arkansas; and Texas.
In addition, another seven states (FL, KY, MD, NJ, OH, RI, and SC) introduced a dismemberment ban this session. The bills are still active in Ohio and South Carolina, making it possible that at least one more state will pass the ban before their legislature adjourns.
Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is already the law in 16 states. The law protects from abortion unborn children who are capable of undergoing excruciating pain while being killed by abortion. Prof. Kanwaljeet “Sunny” Anand is an expert on fetal pain. Prof. Anand has written, “It is my opinion that the human fetus possesses the ability to experience pain from 20 weeks of gestation, if not earlier, and the pain perceived by a fetus is possibly more intense than that perceived 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 little movement in New Jersey and it failed to pass in Oregon. However, this bill is a great educational tool because most people are totally unaware that the unborn child has all the physical structures necessary to experience pain and their hormonal reactions consistent with pain can be measured no later
later than 20 weeks post-fertilization age. Another example of the positive impact this law has, in Oklahoma prior to the 2011 passage of the Oklahoma pain-capable law, there were 1,378 abortions on babies 16 weeks or greater in 2007. Their most recent statistics have shown that in 2016 that number has decreased all the way down to 25 abortions.
Combatting bias against babies with Down syndrome
In December, Ohio enacted a ban on abortions on babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome. Anti-discrimination abortion bans similar to Ohio have been introduced in Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Utah, and Pennsylvania. In mid-April, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives overwhelmingly 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 5th state to enact a law to amend its informed consent law to include information about Abortion Pill Reversal (APR). Now abortionists must inform women about the possibility of reversing a chemical abortion prior to the woman taking the 2nd drug in the abortion cocktail by flooding her body with progesterone. This creative legislation has the potential capacity to save so many unborn babies.
More informed consent
South Dakota enacted a law that amended its informed consent law to target the inaccurate disclosures that abortion facilities were distributing along with the state-mandated materials. Other states brought up bills amending abortion reporting requirements to include complications. Specifically, Arizona, Idaho, and Indiana passed bills requiring that abortion complications be reported. These bills were each signed into law by Governors Doug Ducey, Butch Otter, and Eric Holcomb, respectively.
Minnesota and Tennessee have introduced bills that offer a pregnant woman the opportunity to view the ultrasound of her baby prior to an abortion. In Minnesota S.F. 2849/H.F. 3194 has passed the committee process and has been moved to the floors of the House and Senate. The Tennessee House and Senate have passed their bill and it should be on the desk of Gov. Bill Haslam soon.
Indiana was also able to amend its fetal homicide statute to include the unborn child throughout the entire pregnancy as a separate victim of a crime. Previously only unborn children who had reached viability could be considered victims under state law. Maryland had a similar bill introduced. A hearing was held but ultimately the measure failed to pass before the legislature adjourned.
Florida passed a law that allows pregnancy resource centers to apply for grants from the Department of Health. This will be a helpful tool for expectant mothers who receive resources in order to help them carry 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.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts recently signed a budget bill that reformed the way federal Title X family planning grants are distributed. Entities that want to receive Title X funding must conform to a legal, physical, and financial separation from any entity that performs or counsels for abortion. Tennessee passed a funding bill codifying Gov. Haslam’s 2011 policy, which prioritized funding to 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 allowing the state insurance to exclude payments to abortionists for elective abortions.
The West Virginia legislature passed resolution SJR 12, which provides that a constitutional amendment on abortion funding will be on the November 6 ballot. Once this passes, state funding for abortion would return to the days before the1993 Panepinto state Supreme Court decision when tax dollars were not spent on willfully taking the life of the innocent, a policy with which most West Virginians disagree with. Unfortunately, in Washington State, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill mandating that if insurers offer coverage for maternity care, then they must offer coverage for elective abortions. This is in line with the pro-abortion flawed thinking that abortion is health care, even though every abortion stops a beating heart. The pro-abortion lobby also challenged laws in Maine and Montana that mandate that only a physician may perform abortions. In Montana, a court has granted a temporary injunction that prohibits nurses from performing abortions.
Pro-abortionists tout their few successes in 2018 but that is to be expected. The abortion lobby has promised since the Supreme Court’s 2016 Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision struck down several commonsense Texas laws that it would be targeting state pro-life laws.
But pro-lifers have had far more gains in passing laws to protect both mother and child that pro-abortionists have in taking unborn lives. And there is no debate about the positive impact of pro-life laws. Just recently, we learned that abortion numbers have reached historic lows in Kansas and Utah. In South Carolina, the number of abortions dropped by 10% in 2017, part of an overall decline of more than 63% since 1988.
We must keep the momentum going and continue to strive to protect unborn babies and their mothers.