The “Year of the Unborn Child” continues in state legislatures

By Ingrid Duran, Director of State Legislation

Editor’s note. This appeared in the April edition of National Right to Life News. Please be sure to make your pro-life family and friends aware of this story and of the entire 42 page issue.

State legislatures are off to a strong start in protecting unborn children and their mothers. These actions  continue the pro-life momentum of 2021, which saw hundreds of pro-life bills introduced. 

Here is an update.

A trend in pro-life legislation has been protecting unborn babies after 15-weeks. The most recent was last Thursday in Florida. Such bills have also become law in Arizona and Kentucky. (Kentucky’s pro-abortion governor vetoed the bill, but the General Assembly promptly overrode it.) These laws are similar to Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act which is being considered in the U.S. Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

Most importantly, though, the unborn child’s humanity is front and center in these laws, highlighted by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis: “…these babies have beating hearts, they can move, they can taste, they can see, they can feel pain, they can suck their thumbs, and they have brain waves…” 

Bills such as the 2021 Texas Heartbeat Law, which has saved over 3,000 babies and reduced abortions by at least 60%, continue to be a trend. Idaho’s governor signed a heartbeat ban, though its implementation has been halted by a legal challenge. Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, and Oklahoma have introduced legislation that protects unborn babies from abortion when there is a presence of a heartbeat, unless there is a medical emergency.  

Some of these bills contain the civil enforcement mechanism similar to Texas’s. Oklahoma’s governor signed a bill that is a total ban on abortion, with an exception for the mother’s life.

Indiana and South Dakota have passed laws making it illegal to coerce a mother to abort her child, stressing the importance of protecting mothers and ensuring their welfare.

Wyoming’s governor signed a bill protecting unborn children from abortion, which would take effect once the U.S. Supreme Court either overturns Roe v. Wade, or allows states to protect the unborn from abortion (so-called “trigger laws”). Iowa’s legislature has a trigger bill pending.

A new West Virginia law prohibits abortion because of an unborn child’s disability. This first of its kind protective and educational law requires that parents be given educational materials on support systems available to families raising children with disabilities. 

A major pro-life priority is to regulate dangerous and deadly chemical “do-it-yourself” abortions and to inform women about the possibility of Abortion Pill Reversal (APR). The use of chemical abortions is on the rise—more than 50% of all abortions– and is very-easily available for purchase through the mail. 

Legislation should require these abortion pill “cocktails” be given to a woman in the presence of a doctor/or health care professional (not via “tele-medicine”), as well as requiring the reporting of complications.  South Dakota’s governor signed such a bill into law. Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee have pending legislation that either provides information on reversing the intended effects of a chemical abortion (APR), or regulates chemical abortions, or both.

Pro-life bills providing alternatives to abortion have become law or have been introduced. This year, Arkansas implemented a law to designate funding for pregnancy resource centers. Virginia expanded its “Safe Haven” law (this law allows the safe relinquishment of a newborn). In Georgia, Betsy’s Law which funds maternity homes for homeless mothers and children, has been sent to the Governor. Iowa’s proposed “More Options for Maternal Support” bill promotes adoption.

Pro-abortion forces, as expected, are responding with moves to enshrine abortion into state law and to expand abortion-on-demand until birth.  New Jersey was the first state this year to enact a state law codifying abortion; Colorado followed suit. Maryland and Washington State expanded their abortion laws to allow non-physicians to perform abortions. California has eliminated out-of-pocket costs for abortion; Oregon will use public monies to cover abortion costs. 

California and New York have bills to “protect” abortionists from out of state lawsuits. California and Washington State vow to be abortion “sanctuaries.” Some states have declared war on life-saving pregnancy resource centers. 

Pro-lifers must continue working to promoting life and being aware of laws that do not provide true “sanctuary” for vulnerable women and their unborn children.