State Legislation Update: Helping mother and child during pregnancy and beyond

By Casey Romanoff Coffin, Legislative Assistant, Department of State Legislation

Editor’s note. This story appears in the current edition of National Right to Life News, “the pro-life newspaper of record.” Please share with your pro-life family and friends.

The first few months of 2023 have been busy for pro-life state legislators as they work to protect the lives of unborn children and expand assistance for their mothers. The positive post-Dobbs momentum is strong in these early days of state legislative sessions and, as pro-lifers know, we never give up on helping mothers and children in need. Here is a rundown of what is going on in state legislatures across the country.

Since January, a few hundred pro-life state bills have been introduced. Pro-life legislators in Iowa, Kansas, and West Virginia have introduced bills to prohibit dispensing dangerous chemical abortions to women via telemedicine. 

In Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island, pro-life legislators have introduced the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. This commonsense bill requires health care practitioners to exercise the same degree of professional skill and care that would be offered to any other child born alive at the same gestational age. Kansas has  a hearing on its born-alive bill [HB 2313] this coming Wednesday. 

Nebraska and New Hampshire legislators have put forward “heartbeat” bills, which protect children from the point where their heartbeat can be detected (around 6 weeks gestation). South Carolina’s House has passed the Human Life Protection Act, which would protect the unborn at all stages of development. 

In addition to bills that protect a child in the womb, pro-life legislators have been building on the tangible, everyday ways that we have, for decades, been assisting women experiencing a crisis pregnancy. States are working to use their many resources to expand access to physical and mental healthcare, and life-affirming assistance and information to help new and expectant mothers.

States like Alaska, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Utah, and Wyoming have pending legislation that would extend postpartum Medicaid benefits to women for one year after giving birth. This is crucial to the mental and physical well-being of new moms acclimating to motherhood and taking care of her precious child. Expansion of these benefits gives real health care options to women, not the “promise” of “healthcare” that pro-abortion activists say abortion provides. 

North Dakota’s Senate has passed a bill requiring the state’s health department to develop a pregnancy and parenting resource website; Iowa, Oklahoma, and Oregon have similar bills to provide resources. These bills provide expectant mothers information that is easily accessible and updated with the most current resources. West Virginia’s “Support for Mothers and Babies Act” pools state funds to allow pregnancy centers to assist in their work.

The Kansas Senate has passed the “Pregnancy Resource Act,” which provides a tax credit for donations made to pregnancy centers. This is a great incentive for pro-lifers who want to help moms in need and assist the selfless (mostly volunteer) women and men  who staff the thousands of pregnancy centers across the country. North Dakota’s House passed a similar bill. Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, and Oklahoma have similar pending legislation.

Mississippi’s Senate has passed a bill to expand tax credits for contributions to pregnancy centers, to create a childcare expense tax credit, and to double the adoption expense tax credit for residents wishing to adopt.

Kansas is working to establish the “Alternatives to Abortion” program, which offers resources and promotes childbirth to women facing unplanned pregnancies.

Please continue to contact your state legislators about important pro-life legislation; it is important that your legislators hear from you, and it makes a difference. Sign up to receive email alerts from your state affiliate of NRLC. 

Being pro-life means caring for the whole woman, the whole child, the whole family. We face many challenges from abortion advocates who are working hard to pass laws to enshrine a “right to abortion” into their state law or constitution. We face a formidable foe, but we are on the side of truth and love and are privileged to hold the hand of a woman in a crisis pregnancy each step of her way to giving birth and beyond.