It was the second time in three years that Louisiana has held the top spot on a list based on the states' policies on life issues such as abortion and physician-assisted suicide. Last year, Louisiana was the runner-up to Oklahoma.
Meanwhile, Americans United for Life (AUL) ranked Washington, California and Hawaii as the three "least life-affirming states" for the third consecutive year.
Released Jan. 19, AUL's seventh annual ratings show these states in the top 10 behind Louisiana: 2) Oklahoma; 3) Pennsylvania; 4) Nebraska; 5) Arkansas; 6) Missouri; 7) Texas; 8) South Dakota; 9) North Dakota; and 10) Indiana.
Joining Washington, California and Hawaii in the bottom 10 were: 41) Nevada; 42) Connecticut; 43) New Jersey; 44) New York; 45) Oregon; 46) Montana; and 47) Vermont.
The most-improved states, according to AUL, were Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina and Utah.
It was a record-breaking year for state regulations of abortion. AUL reported more than 70 "life-affirming, abortion-related" bills were enacted. Earlier in January, the Guttmacher Institute said states adopted 92 restrictions on abortion, far surpassing the previous high of 34. In all, 47 states considered more than 460 abortion-related proposals, according to AUL.
The rankings show "tremendous gains in defending life in law," said Charmaine Yoest, AUL's president. "The states are preparing for the day after Roe."
Roe v. Wade is the 1973 Supreme Court decision that not only struck down all state abortion bans but had the effect of legalizing abortion for any reason through all stages of pregnancy. The Supreme Court's reversal of Roe would return abortion policy to the states.
The pro-life laws enacted by states in 2011 included ones that:
-- defunded Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
-- barred abortion coverage in state insurance exchanges established by the 2010 federal health care reform law.
-- prohibited abortions at 20 weeks gestation or later based on evidence a baby in the womb experiences pain by that point.
-- banned "telemedicine," or webcam, abortions, which occur when doctors at remote sites give counsel by means of videoconferencing to women seeking abortions and dispense the two-drug abortion method RU 486 to them without being in their physical presence.
-- instituted new regulations for abortion clinics.
AUL, which is based in Chicago, is a prominent legal organization in the pro-life movement.
The "Life List," as it is known, can be accessed online at www.aul.org/auls-life-list-2012-rankings.
Compiled by Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net