Another “year of the unborn child” in state legislatures

By Ingrid Duran, Director, Department of State Legislation

Editor’s note. This appeared in the February edition of National Right to Life News. Please share and all the stories in the 42 page issue with your pro-life family and friends.

Last session, I described the tone of legislatures across our nation as the “year of the unborn child.” Judging by the momentum to protect the most vulnerable among us and their mothers, the 2022 legislative session across our nation will be no different. The State Legislation Department is monitoring hundreds of prolife bills. Below is a snap shot of some of the protective laws that state legislatures are considering. 

Following in the successful footsteps of the Texas Heartbeat Law which has already saved well over 3,000 babies– and driving abortions down by at least 60% –other states are also pursuing similar bills.

This session, Alabama, Arizona, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin have introduced legislation that protects unborn babies from abortion when there is a presence of the baby’s heartbeat, unless there is a medical emergency.  These bills also contain the civil enforcement mechanism that has been successful in Texas. Ohio has introduced a bill that is a total ban on abortion with a similar enforcement mechanism as Texas.

Other states are also passing heartbeat protection laws with criminal and civil penalties: Idaho, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and West Virginia have introduced laws protecting unborn babies when there is a heartbeat present. Iowa, Nebraska, and Wyoming have also introduced bills that protect all unborn children from abortion, which will take effective once the United State Supreme Court either overturns Roe v. Wade, or states are allowed to protect the unborn from abortion. These are commonly known as trigger laws.

Since the United States Supreme Court is reviewing Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, a law that protects unborn babies at 15 weeks gestation from abortion, several states are following Mississippi’s example and pursuing similar legislation. This session Arizona, Florida, Iowa, and West Virginia have introduced a gestational age act similar to Mississippi’s. Iowa’s protects the unborn at 12 weeks gestation and the rest of the states are at 15 weeks gestation.

With chemical abortions steadily rising, another pressing matter for our movement are protective laws and regulations regarding abortifacients. These laws vary. Some require abortion facilities to inform mothers about the possibility of reversing the intended effects of abortion with Abortion Pill Reversal (APR) Information Laws. 

Other bills contain regulations prohibiting these dangerous pills from being sent through the mail—the so-called Do-It-Yourself abortion. These deadly cocktails must be provided by a qualified healthcare professional and in the presence of the doctor or health care professional; require the reporting of complications as well as other common sense protections.  So far, Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina, and South Dakota, have introduced legislation that either provides information on reversing the intended effects of a chemical abortion or regulating chemical abortions or a mixture of both.

There are also other important pieces of pro-life legislation such as the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act. This legislation requires healthcare providers to render aid to any infant that survives an abortion attempt equal to what they would give a preemie of the same age. Ohio enacted a bill in late December, and it has been introduced in five states: Illinois, Missouri, New York, Rhode Island and Virginia.  

Bills designed to help mothers choose life by providing funding for programs, or create resources for alternatives to abortion, have been filed in Georgia with Betsy’s Law and Oklahoma’s Every Mom Matters Act (EMMA).  Missouri has several bills in consideration in order to get the government out of funding abortions.  Virginia and West Virginia have introduced bills that protect unborn babies with disabilities from abortion and also provide educational resources for families that are given a diagnosis of Down syndrome, or any other disability, in the unborn child. 

In retaliation to all of the positive bills that protect the unborn and their mothers, our opposition has filed a series of bills that would enshrine a right to abortion in their state and expand the abortion-on-demand strategy up until birth that is extremely detrimental to the unborn and their mothers.  New Jersey was the first state to enact a dangerous law this session. So far, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Vermont have filed these types of bills. Other states like Nebraska and Wisconsin have bills repealing existing pro-life protections.  It is important to remain vigilant, connect with the NRLC affiliate in your state and help them defeat these deadly bills.

While it is still the beginning of session, I expect that in my next update there will be more news of states enacting laws that protect the unborn child.