An Update on State Pro-Life Legislation

By Ingrid Duran, Director, Department of State Legislation

Editor’s note. This story appears on page eight of the April Digital edition of National Right to Life News, our monthly compendium of pro-life news and opinion. Please be sure to share the contents of this story—and all others that you enjoy—with pro-life family and friends. Also please feel free to drop me any thoughts at daveandrusko@gmail.com.

Looking back to 2019, the legislative session began January 22 with a body blow to the stomach. Pro-abortion Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed New York’s reprehensible “Reproductive Health Act,” which was extreme by any definition. The Act not only legalized abortion throughout pregnancy, it removed what little prolife protections the state had for abortion survivors. It was a template for other states, such as Illinois and Vermont, which unfortunately followed suit.

However, as I reported in National Right to Life News Today, the 2019 session ended with many pro-life bills passed by various legislatures and signed into law. 

In 2020, the first punches were again thrown by pro-abortionists. On January 2nd, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a law that authorized 9.5 million of tax payer dollars to go towards organizations that perform abortion, such as Planned Parenthood. 

Shortly after that, the Virginia General Assembly passed the pro-abortion Equal Rights Amendment.  

On top of that the Virginia General Assembly has recently passed a bill gutting the Woman’s Right to Know law.  These informed consent laws are lifesavers because they allow mothers a chance to see the ultrasound of their baby. This legislation provides mothers with information on their developing baby, alternatives to abortion such as adoption, abortion risks, and local resources that aid families, and a 24-hour reflection period. It is currently on Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk and he has until April 11th to sign the law, which he is expected to do. 

At least three states, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Virginia, were considering amending their constitutions to create a right to abortion.  In Maryland, it was disguised as a right to privacy act, but Maryland Right to Life saw this as the Trojan horse that it was. They fought hard to educate Marylanders of the dangers of this bill, and the bill was withdrawn.  Although there were a number of extreme abortion on demand laws that were introduced, most failed.

But, as the pro-abortion thinktank, the Guttmacher Institute consistently updated, pro-lifers are busy working to establish protections for the unborn. This year’s common trends in the state legislatures include: protecting unborn babies from the brutal dismemberment abortion procedure; pro-life constitutional amendments that clarify state constitutions do not create a right to abortions or a requirement that abortions be funded; the “Born-Alive Infants Protection Act” to ensure that babies that survive abortion attempts receive the kind of medical treatment any other baby delivered at a similar gestational age would receive; “trigger” abortion bans allowing the state to prohibit abortions when Roe v. Wade is overturned;  and Abortion Pill Reversal – an informed consent law that provides abortion-minded women with information about the possibility of reversing the intended effects of a chemical abortion, should they change  their mind after ingesting the first of two drugs.  

The Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act was introduced in five (5) states: Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Virginia.  In Michigan, legislation can be initiated by the citizenry. Our affiliate, Right to Life of Michigan, collected hundreds of thousands of signatures to initiate legislation to ban dismemberment abortions. In February, I went to the Nebraska to provide testimony in supporting the dismemberment abortion ban on behalf of National Right to Life and our affiliate Nebraska Right to Life.

Pro-life constitutional amendments were filed in Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, and Kentucky.  Both Iowa and Kentucky’s bill has passed one chamber of their legislature and are awaiting action in the other chamber.  Unfortunately, in Kansas, the Value Them Both amendment passed on house by the required two-thirds majority but fell 4 votes in the other, 

The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act was filed in six (6) states: Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, and Wyoming.  Last week, Wyoming’s Governor vetoed a law that would provide medical care for babies that survive abortion. Abortion survivors, such as Melissa Ogden, Claire Culwell, and Giana Jessen are all now thriving adults.  

West Virginians for Life were instrumental in educating the citizens of their state and assisting pro-life lawmakers in the passage of their born alive law that was ultimately signed by pro-life Gov. Jim Justice.  In Alabama, Kentucky, and Ohio, it has passed one chamber in the legislature. It is noteworthy that the Kentucky Senate passed it unanimously.  

Trigger laws were introduced in Idaho, Ohio, and Utah.  As noted above, these laws will not go into effect unless Roe is reversed, granting states the power to prohibit abortions.  Idaho’s law and Utah’s law were signed by their respective Governors just last week.  

Abortion Pill Reversal (APR) was introduced in Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia.  In Iowa and Tennessee, it has passed a committee. In Ohio it passed their Senate last November.  The Florida legislature amended their parental notice law to a parent consent and Gov. Ron DeSantis has indicated that he would sign the bill.  

While the COVID-19 outbreak may have stopped any pro-life legislation from moving further along, NRLC and its affiliates have been hard at work making significant strides in state legislatures nationwide.  The amount of pro-life laws introduced and passed exceptionally outweighs what the pro-abortion lobby is capable of getting passed. Even during this pandemic, our entire staff and affiliates are diligently working from our homes to make sure that we can advocate effectively for those without a voice.