Changing Public Sentiment and the Fate of Roe v Wade Precipitate a Wave of Pro-life Success Across the Nation
As many state legislatures are beginning to wind down for the year, it is apparent that the pro-life movement is winning on many fronts. The proverbial starting gun went off when we witnessed the complete evisceration of all protections for preborn babies and their mothers by the New York legislature on January 22nd and the celebratory environment that ensued. Then, Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia advocated for a legislative proposal which would have expanded abortion access without virtually any limits, including allowing infanticide.
Those two events ignited pro-life forces and activists across the nation were fired up! With pro-life legislators going to work in multiple states, we have seen the success of pro-life legislation unlike any year previously.
Fueling all this activity is also an anticipated change at the Supreme Court once President Trump has the opportunity to appoint an additional Justice. While no one knows what will happen, many believe that Roe v. Wade will eventually be challenged in court. Presumably, a Court more ideologically conservative than the one in 1973 could render a verdict returning the regulation of abortion to the states, as it was prior to 1973.
That anticipated change would have no meaning but for the nearly 50 years of pro-life activism that is largely responsible for an immense sea-change in the minds of Americans on the issue of abortion. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services Center for Disease Control, abortion in the US hit a record low in 2015 (the most recent year for which statistics are available). Regrettably, the record low number is still 638,169 lives ended. It is hard to celebrate such an “accomplishment” knowing what each of those numbers means. Yet the movement has pressed on – looking to the progress of the advancing pro-life shift in our culture and what that means for each one not aborted.
We have witnessed major accomplishments this year on the pro-life front in multiple states. Among those accomplishments are some miraculous events that stopped bad bills from becoming law and in other states, pro-life majorities finally delivering pro-life legislation to pro-life governors for approval.
Here is a laundry list of what has been going on in 2019:
New Mexico has a very liberal government – the House, Senate and Governor’s office are all under Democratic control. An abortion bill even more radical than New York’s was proposed that would have removed the state’s only abortion restrictions. Many assumed it was a safe bet for easy passage. Family Policy Alliance of New Mexico®, along with pro-life activists, pastors, churches and other statewide organizations went to work. They visited with lawmakers, emailed, called, prayed and rallied (one of the biggest pro-life rallies in New Mexico history occurred in the Capitol earlier this year). They would not stop. Ultimately, they were successful in putting together a bipartisan coalition of New Mexico Senators that defeated the abortion bill!
Vince Torres, Executive Director of Family Policy Alliance of New Mexico wrote: “After the final vote was announced, we found ourselves silenced in disbelief at what had just transpired—the people of New Mexico had gone up against the abortion industry giant, and the people had won!”
Georgia – Our ally, Family Policy Alliance of Georgia®, was an integral part of a coalition that successfully passed what is being called the most pro-life legislation in the nation in the form of a heartbeat bill, which prohibits abortions after the point by which a preborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected. Executive Director Cole Muzio described Georgia’s heartbeat legislation as the bill that the “pro-life community has been waiting for” and that the strength of the bill would “echo far beyond the borders of our state.” The Georgia heartbeat bill is currently on the Governor’s desk, and he has pledged to sign it. Georgia has become ground zero for abortion activists this year. They know this is a tough bill and they are working overtime to intimidate and threaten the state to prevent its enactment.
Kentucky – The state of Kentucky experienced major pro-life wins for the last three years. After laboring for so long under divided control of the state government, pro-life governor Matt Bevin was elected in 2015, and pro-life majorities in the House and Senate followed along soon after. Since that time, pro-life legislation has passed every year.
Our Kentucky allies, the The Family Foundation, was integral in the enactment of a number of pro-life bills including a heartbeat bill; a bill that bans abortions based solely on a fetal abnormality, sex, or race; and a reporting law requiring that medications given by a physician with the intent of causing an abortion must be reported as an abortion and included in the statistical reporting.
Virginia – Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s comments about the radical abortion bill proposed there can at least be partially credited with igniting the pro-life fire this year. That legislation would have allowed infanticide in cases of failed abortions. Our Family Foundation of Virginia allies went to work and ultimately defeated not only the abortion bill but also a very dangerous Equal Rights Amendment bill that would have opened the floodgates on a multitude of abortion and gender issues.
Victoria Cobb, President of The Family Foundation of Virginia, noted voter involvement for their success: “Despite the introduction of a horrific, New York style birthday abortion bill and the appalling comments made by Governor Northam supporting post-birth infanticide, the cause of life did move forward this year. Nearly 7,000 people gathered at the Virginia March for Life to express their outrage and the legislature responded by removing all funding in our state budget for abortions on low-income women who have an unborn child with a disability diagnosis.”
North Dakota – The work of Family Policy Alliance of North Dakota® was the major driver behind the enactment of two important laws there this year. The first ensures that women seeking a chemical abortion know that the abortion may be reversible if they change their mind after taking the first abortion pill. A second North Dakota law now bans dismemberment abortions, a brutal practice that involves tearing a preborn baby apart. Mark Jorritsma, Executive Director of Family Policy Alliance of North Dakota® noted that elections have consequences, and North Dakotans are reaping the benefits of electing not only a solidly pro-life delegation at the federal level but also a solidly pro-life state legislature.
Kansas – Kansas was the first state in the nation to pass a resolution condemning the New York abortion law enacted earlier this year. Family Policy Alliance of Kansas’® Director of Advocacy, Brittany Jones stated, “Kansas is one of the most pro-life states in the country. The New York abortion law is a horrific reflection on the state and its values. The New York law does not reflect the values of Kansans. Even as several more states consider following New York’s lead, Kansas is proud to be a state that cherishes life and provides some of the strongest pro-life protections in the county.” The work continued in Kansas when an abortion pill reversal bill similar to North Dakota’s was passed by both chambers and now sits on Democrat Governor Laura Kelly’s desk.
Arkansas – Arkansas has seen a litany of pro-life bills enacted this year. So far, the following have either been signed or sent to the governor for a signature: legislation requiring abortionists to be board-certified, an 18-week abortion ban, a Safe Haven act to give alternatives to abortion, chemical abortion reversal information bill, legislation prohibiting aborting children with Down Syndrome, and lastly a bill requiring abortion complications to be reported.
Jerry Cox, President of the Family Council, noted: “The pro-life legislation Arkansas passed this session literally will save lives. The eighteen-week abortion ban will save 170 unborn children every year. If all of our pro-life legislation is enforced, we estimate that by the fall of next year, some 1,000 – 1,500 children will be alive because of anti-abortion laws we’ve helped pass since 2015. About 400 of those kids will be heading off to their first day of preschool or kindergarten. That’s something Arkansans should be proud of.”
South Dakota – The South Dakota legislature passed six pro-life bills including requirements that an ultrasound be offered to women seeking abortions, as well as reporting requirements for abortionists. They also approved two resolutions – one condemning the New York law and another calling on Congress to defund Planned Parenthood. In a reliably pro-life state, the effect of the New York legislation was noted by Family Heritage Alliance Executive Director, Norman Woods, “South Dakota has traditionally been a very pro-life state. Nearly every year the Legislature makes improvements to our life statutes but this year we saw more progress made than usual, arguably sparked by the insanity we witnessed in New York and other states. Even after these 6 bills had gained traction and were heading through, the body still wasn’t done. The passage of [the resolutions condemning New York’s abortion law] left no questions in people’s minds as to where our Legislature stands on the issue of life.”
Ohio – Just last week, Governor Mike DeWine signed into law the nation’s latest heartbeat bill. On the legal front, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld the Ohio law allowing them to decline funding the abortion industry. The law was enacted in 2016. In an 11 to 6 decision, the court ruled that the state was not required to pay for abortions. We hope that this ruling will clear a path for similar rulings on other cases related to the funding of Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. Our allies at Citizens for Community Values worked to pass the 2016 legislation.
Heartbeat bills continue to receive attention in a number of states – Mississippi enacted a heartbeat law earlier in the session and similar bills have passed through one chamber of the legislature in Missouri and Tennessee and have been introduced in Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, South Carolina and West Virginia.
Even in reliably blue states where pro-life successes have not been realized, the pro-life movement is alive and very active. In Illinois for example, when a New-York style abortion rights bill was proposed, thousands of pro-life activists showed up in the capitol one day. So many that the Capitol was filled to capacity and many more were turned away at the doors!
Family Policy Alliance is pleased to work with allied organizations in 40 states – to find out if your state is one of those, go to our Allies page for the contact information you need. Reach out to them and get in involved in your state!
It is through active participation and activism that we are able to see the results of nearly 50 years of pro-life work making a difference in so many fronts – turning the tide of history and saving lives.
Standing for life,
1 Cor 15:58 – Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.