By Ingrid Duran, Director, Department of State Legislation
Editor’s note. This appeared in the first post-Roe edition of National Right to Life News, “the pro-life newspaper of record.” Please share this 41 pages issue with your family and friends.
The 2022 legislative session has recently ended for most states and with the recent win for the unborn at the nation’s highest Court, states are now poised to go back into special sessions to guarantee the effective protection of unborn children. Let’s take a look at just how successful our movement was in securing the rights to the unborn in this past legislative session.
Lets start with the bad news so that we can end on a high note. While there were an incredible number of prolife wins, there were also some laws enacted in states that are not friendly to the unborn or the prolife cause. Some trends that we saw which show total disregard for life include extreme abortion on demand policies; allowing non-doctors to perform abortions; and creating a safe haven for abortion doctors that may break the law by directing state officials to refuse to participate or provide information from law enforcement in other states.
Five state legislatures — California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Washington — all implemented some type of legislation creating a safe haven for abortionists. The Connecticut law directs officials to avoid compliance with any investigations from other states when the matter is related to reproductive health. New York’s law prohibits cooperation with any investigation dealing with abortion. New York’s governor also signed five more laws that range from increasing protections for abortionists, to studying the effectiveness of pregnancy resource centers (a tactic used to undermine these helpful centers), to prohibiting medical malpractice insurance agencies from taking adverse action against any reproductive healthcare provider.
Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington State now have laws allowing non-doctors to perform abortions, so that now, low-level healthcare personnel are allowed to perform them. Maryland widened its scope on who can perform abortions to physicians, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, certified midwives, physician assistants and “any other individual” licensed to practice in the state. This should be alarming to everyone.
California eliminated any out of pocket costs for elective abortions, Oregon codified an appropriations bill designating $15M for abortion coverage, and both Colorado and New Jersey enshrined into their state laws a right to abortion on demand. Illinois enacted a law that repealed their parental consent law, so now parents do not have the right to protect their minors who obtain abortions in that state.
While the number of laws protecting innocent unborn life overwhelmingly surpassed the laws that disregard human, we know that, even with the successful legislative session, we must remain vigilant. Our work is never finished.
Now the good news. And there were lots!
Some prolife trends this session include legislation introduced similar to the Texas heartbeat law, and bills passed in anticipation of the Dobbs decision. We saw many bills protecting babies in early stages of pregnancy or at 15 weeks gestation, bills aimed at preventing coerced abortions, bills that regulate chemical abortions, and bills increasing funding for pregnancy resource centers. Idaho and Oklahoma passed laws protecting an unborn child in the early stages of pregnancy or when the baby’s heartbeat is present.
The Louisiana and Oklahoma legislatures amended their trigger abortion laws (these laws are written to go into effect when the Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade). Wyoming also passed a trigger law this session. Standing in solidarity with Mississippi’s gestational act, three states (Arizona, Florida, and Kentucky) enacted a law protecting the preborn at 15 weeks gestation.
Three states also passed a law making it illegal to force or coerce a woman into having an abortion. These were passed in Indiana, Iowa, and South Dakota. Five states focused on helping pregnant mothers. Arkansas and Missouri increased funding to their state alternatives to abortion funding program; Mississippi created a $3.5M tax credit for individuals and businesses to use in support of donations for non-profit pregnancy resource centers and crisis pregnancy centers around the state. Arizona also passed a law that adds an inflator to the charitable tax credit that provides funding for pregnancy resource centers. In Georgia, under the direction of our affiliate, Georgia Life Alliance, the legislature passed a first-ever “Betsy’s Law,” which provides definitions of and guidelines for maternity supportive housing facilities for homeless pregnant women and their minor children.
In order to address the rise of the use of chemical abortions, four states passed protective laws curbing their use. The Louisiana legislature passed a law making it illegal to mail chemical abortion pills; Tennessee and South Dakota passed a law that would prohibit telemedicine abortions.
The Kentucky legislature overrode the Governor’s veto of a prolife omnibus bill that not only protects unborn babies at 15 weeks gestation or greater, but also strengthens the state’s parental involvement law and amends their abortion pill reversal law with consent provisions. The bill additionally requires: that only a doctor can prescribe/perform a chemical abortion in order to prevent mail-order, do-it-yourself abortions; that the doctor be credentialed and report complications; chemical abortion reporting (location of abortion, demographic info of mother, baby’s age, etc.); and promulgates regulations. Finally, the bill directs the Health Department to provide annual statistics, and prohibits chemical abortion distribution in schools.
Also, due to court decisions that have been hostile to the unborn, Kansas and Kentucky both have a ballot measure to amend their state constitution to clarify that there is no right to abortion or the funding of abortion in that state. Voters in Kansas will decide this during their August 2022 primary, and voters in Kentucky will decide on Election Day this November. Also in November, Montana voters will decide if their state should adopt a law that protects infants that survive abortion attempts. On the oppositional side, Vermont is attempting to amend their constitution with language securing a right to abortion on demand; California will do the same. Nevada will have a question on the ballot for state-level Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) policy in that state.
There was so much momentum gained recently on behalf of unborn, with so many victories. This is a reflection of the heart of this movement. There have been ups and downs, but as long as we keep our focus on protecting the vulnerable and their mothers, we will continue to see the rewards. And the best part: this is just the beginning.