An extraordinary legislative session pays rich dividends for unborn children and their mothers

By Ingrid Duran, NRLC Director of State Legislation

Editor’s note. This appears on page six of the May digital edition of National Right to Life News which arrived in your inboxes Wednesday morning. Please take time to read the entire issue and share the link with your pro-life family and friends. Thank you.

All across the nation as the 2021 legislative session starts to wind down one thing is crystal clear: this year the unborn baby and her mother were the MVPs.  There were so many great pro-life laws introduced, debated, and ultimately passed.  

These bills ranged from: abortion pill reversal (APR) information requirement;  regulating chemical [“medication”] abortions; protecting pain-capable unborn children; protecting living unborn children from gruesome dismemberment; enacting born-alive infant protection acts; pro-life constitutional amendments; and abortion bans. Before we deep dive into all of the encouraging news this session, it is important to know that some anti-life laws that prey on the vulnerable were also passed in deep blue states.  

Last November the Massachusetts legislature passed a law that allowed abortion past 24 weeks based on the potential disability of the unborn child, as well as a provision lowering a minor girl’s age from 18 to 16 under their state’s parental consent law. This means that 16 year olds can now obtain an abortion in obscurity, with their parents never knowing. Gov. Charlies Baker used a line-item veto on the section lowering the adolescent’s age, but the legislature overrode his veto. 

Then early on in the 2021 session, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a law repealing the state’s prohibition on state funding for abortion under the exchanges created in the Affordable Care Act [“Obamacare”). Washington State recently enacted a law that would fund abortion coverage in college students health plans with some limited exceptions.

Hawaii passed a law allowing non-physicians to perform early abortions. New Mexico repealed a pre-Roe abortion ban leaving the state without any pro-life protections as well as legalizing assisted suicide.  

These are the consequences of electing leaders hostile to the pro-life cause. Fortunately, only a relative few laws passed that are detrimental to life, while the pro-life laws enacted this session greatly outnumbered them. Here they are. 

Abortion Pill Reversal (APR) Information

Abortion Pill Reversal information (APR) laws, often referred to as “A Second Chance at Life,”  require abortion facilities to inform mothers of the possibility of reversing the intended effects of a two-drug chemical abortion if she changes her mind after taking mifepristone, the first drug, but before taking misoprostol, the second pill.  APR legislation was introduced in 10 states (AL, IN, IA, LA, ME, NC, SC, SD, VA, and WV).  

Indiana, Montana, and West Virginia were successful in passing APR reversal information law, meaning there are now 13 states that require abortion facilities not to keep women in the dark about this potential life-saving measure. 

In Louisiana, their proposed APR law has just passed out of one committee, and we fully expect their pro-life leaders to pass this law.  

South Dakota has an APR law that requires the department of health to inform pregnant mothers on their website about the possibility of APR.  During the 2021 session, the legislature amended their existing law to also provide APR information in the written discharge instructions given to women after she takes the first pill. 

Amendments to State Constitutions

This session, Kansas, Kentucky, and Iowa introduced proposals to amend their state constitutions to thwart activist courts from finding a “right” to abortion (and abortion funding) in the constitution. 

In Kansas, the “Value Them Both” amendment will appear on the ballot in August 2022, and in Kentucky, the “No Right to Abortion” amendment will appear on the November 2022 ballot.

Iowa’s “Protect Life Amendment” is still moving through the legislature where it must pass two consecutive sessions before going on the ballot. It has passed both the respective Legislatures in Kansas and Kentucky. 

Chemical [“medication”] Abortion Regulations

The 2021 legislation session also featured a wave of bills that required common sense protections regarding the dangers of chemical abortions.  These laws have one or more of the following:  establishing the requirement that facilities must use protocols such as informed consent; requiring a physician’s presence; prohibiting anyone from mailing the deadly cocktails for self-managed [“Do-It-Yourself”] abortions; reporting of complications; and requiring distributors to be licensed. 

Five states–Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio, and Montana–passed measures that regulated chemical abortions.  In Oklahoma it has passed both houses and is currently in conference. In Texas, the legislation has passed the House.

Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA)

The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA) ensures that if a baby survives an abortion attempt, she receives the same lifesaving measures that are taken to care for any other infant born at the same gestational age.  Eighteen states had introduced BAIPA bills (AL, HI, IL, KY, MA, MN, MS, MO, MT, NH, NY, NC, OH, OR, RI, SD, WI, WY).  

The Kentucky legislature passed a BAIPA. It went into effect without the signature of pro-abortion Gov. Andy Beshear.  Born-alive bills were also signed by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon.  

The Montana legislature recently passed a measure that placed its Born-Alive Infant Protection Act on the November 2022 ballot. This referendum will allow voters to make the final decision. 

Abortion Bans/Heartbeat Bills: 

Arkansas passed a direct abortion ban which is not scheduled to go into effect until 90 days after their legislative session ends. Oklahoma and South Carolina passed heartbeat bills; in South Carolina, the pro-abortion lobby has already challenged the law.  Idaho and Oklahoma also passed a trigger abortion ban–laws that would go into effect when courts allow states to prohibit abortions. 

The Texas legislature passed Texas Right to Life’s Pro-life Priority Agenda bill.  After it goes to the state Senate for a final vote, the bill will be sent to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbot.  The bill contains three pro-life elements: 1) an anti-discrimination abortion ban; 2) a heartbeat bill that will take effect in two years; and 3) a total ban on elective abortions that will take effect in four years.

Down Syndrome Prenatal and Postnatal Education Act

Another growing trend that is also life-affirming and modeled after Pennsylvania “Chloe’s law” are laws aimed at educating families about caring for a person with Down syndrome and demonstrating that these individuals are capable of living full lives with the right support.  These laws also provide families with resources and support from their local communities.  Idaho and Mississippi both enacted such a law during this session. 

Anti-Discrimination Abortion Bans

Anti-discrimination abortion bans prohibit an abortionist from aborting a child because of the unborn baby’s sex, race, or potential disability.  There were fifteen states that introduced a bill protecting vulnerable babies (AR, AZ, FL, ID, MD, MI, MS, NC, OR, PA, SC, SD, TX, WA, WY).  

Arizona enacted a law that makes it illegal to perform the abortion due to a “genetic abnormality” of the baby. South Dakota passed Gov. Noem’s priority bill which forbids abortionists from taking an unborn baby’s life because she or he has been prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Supporting Pregnant Mothers

This session, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas introduced the “Every Mom Matters Act (EMMA).  These laws remove barriers to choosing life by supporting expectant mothers with assistance and pregnancy resources so they can deliver healthy babies.  The more that we can show up for pregnant women in need and address issues with love and support, the less likely these women will show up at abortion facilities feeling like abortion is their only option. 

This session Arkansas was the 1st state to enact EMMA.  In Texas, it has passed the Senate and it is working its way through the House. In Tennessee, the proposal is still in committee. The Missouri legislature also passed an appropriations bill that secures funding for their Alternatives to Abortion program that directs funding to nonprofits that look to help pregnant mothers in need.  

Ultrasound

Arkansas modified and strengthened their ultrasound law to mirror the NRLC model.  Previously, if abortion facilities used an ultrasound prior to performing the abortion, the mother was offered a chance to view the images on the screen. The improved provision requires all facilities to perform an ultrasound prior to an abortion and display the images so that the pregnant mother can view it if she chooses.  Studies indicate that performing an ultrasound prior to an abortion is routine (at least 98% of the time) in order to date the pregnancy and determine which abortion procedure to perform. 

Montana also passed an ultrasound law requiring facilities to offer the pregnant woman a chance to view the picture.  Indiana amended their law to offer the pregnant mother a copy of the ultrasound image free of charge. 

Other worthy mentions

In Arkansas, the legislature passed and Gov. Hutchinson signed a conscience protection law which protects healthcare workers from being forced into participating in an abortion; a law keeping abortion giants such as Planned Parenthood out of public schools by prohibiting the schools from entering into a contract with them; and requiring abortion facilities to have written transfer agreements with a nearby hospital in case of emergencies. 

The Montana legislature also passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which protects babies at 20 weeks from abortion. They also passed an “opt out” law, allowing the state to “opt out” of providing insurance plans that cover abortions in the state exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act.  The legislature recently sent Gov. Greg Gianforte a bill that redirects Title X family planning funding away from abortion facilities and prioritizes funding for public entities and rural health clinics and primary care.  

South Dakota enacted a perinatal hospice law which gives parents alternatives to abortion when they are faced with a fatal diagnosis of their unborn child.  Wyoming passed an Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which recognizes the unborn child as a separate victim if the mother is a victim of a crime such as assault or murder.  

It is clearly evident that life is winning.  It is vital to keep the unborn child and her mother in mind when passing these laws. 

Pro-abortionists continue to exploit women for political gain.  The pro-life community, by contrast, seeks win-win solutions to serve the needs of women and their unborn children.

There will be more laws that pass as some states are still in session which we will report about in NRL News Today.

Thanks to grassroots pro-lifers, there is no sign the cause of life will ever slow down.