While many pro-life advocates focus on abortion politics in Washington, there are other important battles pro-lifers are fighting in state capitals across the nation.
President Donald Trump and conservatives in Congress have done a great deal to protect innocent human life at the federal level. The administration has enacted the “Protect Life Rule” at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to begin curbing federal taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood; confirmed Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh; and reinstated the Mexico City Policy to halt U.S. taxpayer dollars going to international organizations that fund or perform abortions.
Despite the impressive list of accomplishments in protecting innocent human life at the federal level, many pro-life activists have become discouraged by congressional Democrats' ability to thwart even modest restrictions on abortion. Over the past two years, Democrats in Congress have taken down the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to ban abortion after the 20-week mark of pregnancy and successfully blocked the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act to protect newborn babies who survive botched abortion procedures.
The success of congressional Democrats in defeating federal pro-life legislation is frustrating, but pro-life Americans should be encouraged by the exceptional level of achievement at the state level. According to Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States, over 250 bills to curb abortion have been filed across 41 states this year.
Lawmakers in state after state have not only filed an overwhelming number of pro-life bills, but many have also passed pro-life legislation through both chambers of the legislature and signed them into law, with others awaiting the governor's signature.
Last week, Ohio became the latest state to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, and similar “fetal heartbeat” laws were enacted in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Iowa, Mississippi, Texas, and North Dakota.
Unfortunately, some of the fetal heartbeat laws were overturned by federal courts. But, many of the state attorneys generals are continuing to fight with the possibility that one of these cases could wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Fetal heartbeat legislation has also passed in Georgia where it awaits the signature of Governor Brian Kemp. This week the Texas House of Representatives followed both Tennessee and Missouri in passing fetal heartbeat legislation, and all three are awaiting a vote in the Senate. Similar fetal heartbeat bills have been introduced in Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, South Carolina, and West Virginia.
Legislation to protect human life after a heartbeat can be detected is not the only piece of pro-life legislation on the move.
North Dakota recently enacted legislation banning abortion if the baby has reached the second trimester of life. Oklahoma recently joined Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota to enact “trigger” laws that would immediately ban abortion procedures if Roe vs. Wade is overturned. The North Carolina Senate passed a ‘Born-Alive’ abortion bill this week, modeled after the federal Born Alive Survivors Protection Act, and the state House is expected to take up the measure next week.
Just as President Trump and pro-life members of Congress continue to fight pro-abortion extremists in Washington, many states are continuing to build toward a culture that protects the dignity and the sanctity of every human life from conception to natural death, including the unborn.
State legislators, governors, and attorneys generals throughout the nation should be commended and celebrated by pro-life activists for performing most of the heavy lifting to protect the unborn.
The pro-life movement should appreciate the administration’s accomplishments in Washington, and just as importantly, celebrate the outstanding achievements taking place at the state level. The momentum toward a culture of protecting the most innocent among us is building, and states are leading the way.