Mid-Year Pro-Life State Legislative Update

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

Editor’s note. This appears in the June issue of National Right to Life News. Please share this story, and the remainder of stories that appear in this 49-page edition.

We are approaching the one year anniversary of the demise of Roe v. Wade. There was a joyous celebration on June 24, 2022, the day the Supreme Court ruled there was no right to abortion in the U.S. Constitution. The decision energized pro-life advocates across the country – grassroots and state legislators alike –to expand ways to support mothers and protect unborn children. Despite some rough seas this past year, with truth on our side, we continue to promote practical ways to help expectant and new mothers who find themselves in difficult circumstances.

During the first half of 2023, pro-lifers in statehouses across the country supported legislation that increasingly focused on finding more ways to protect mothers during their pregnancy and support families so they may choose life.  Let’s take a look at the latest trends in pro-life legislation across the country.

Recently enacted laws protect both unborn children in the womb and the health and safety of their mothers. North Carolina’s legislature overrode the pro-abortion governor’s veto of the Care for Women, Children, and Families Act. This act protects babies from chemical and surgical abortion after 12 weeks gestation.

The law requires additional safeguards for maternal health by eliminating “tele-medicine” abortions, specifying that a mother must be examined in-person before receiving a chemical abortion pill. A physical examination provides an accurate screening of a woman’s condition – something a tele-medicine appointment over a computer screen can never do. An in-office visit allows symptoms to be observed with a doctor’s own eyes and could prevent serious complications such as an ectopic pregnancy or allergic reaction to the chemical abortion. The North Carolina law also contains conscience protections for medical personnel who cannot participate in the killing of unborn children.

Nebraska’s unicameral legislature also passed a bill protecting most unborn children after 12 weeks gestation. Sandy Danek, Executive Director of Nebraska Right to Life, said “The leadership shown by Governor Pillen led us to the place where we can now witness further safeguards for children in the womb.” She also praised the “persistent courage” of legislators who support “the values we all hold most dear” in Nebraska.

South Carolina’s Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act was the Palmetto state’s first pro-life law to be enacted since Dobbs. It protects unborn children when their heartbeats can be detected (about 6 weeks gestation). South Carolina Citizens for Life President Lisa Van Riper said, “With passage of this bill, South Carolina has a chance to rebuild a culture of life. I’m excited about the future of South Carolina.”

Montana’s pro-life governor Greg Gianforte signed a series of bills to promote life. Laws enacted include requirements ensuring medical care for a child born alive during an abortion; protecting viable children from abortion at approximately 24 weeks; protecting unborn children from brutal dismemberment abortions; allowing conscience protections for medical providers who do not want to participate in abortions; prohibiting tax dollars from paying for abortions; and establishing an adoption tax credit. “It’s not enough just to stand for life. We must also do all we can to make Montana families stronger and help them prosper,” Gov. Gianforte said.

Gov. Gianforte’s statement sums up the workthat pro-life advocateshave done for decades. Dobbs opened the door a bit more for important life-saving work, and we still have much to do to change hearts and minds. We should pledge to continue doing all we can to protect unborn children by advocating for them in our state legislatures and educating our fellow citizens about child development in the womb and what exactly happens when a child’s life is brutally ended by abortion.

With the number of chemical abortions rising, we must provide women with facts about the possible physical and emotional tolls that these abortions can bring. Great compassion and creativity is required to find new ways to be with a mother each day during and after her pregnancy, but it is a joyful task with huge rewards.