Americans United for Life released a new state-by-state report on the status of state legislation that protects women and unborn children on abortion and on bioethics issues. The report found Oklahoma the most pro-life state in the country and Washington the most pro-abortion.
For the sixth year in row, AUL’s new “Life List” ranks all 50 states based on the way each deals with a comprehensive list of life issues from euthanasia to abortion. The report follows one from the pro-abortion group NARAL that had states ranked based on grades and a cluster of states leading the pack as the most pro-life or pro-abortion.
Charmaine Yoest, the president of AUL, tells LifeNews.com the report shows state-level pro-life legislation works in terms of reducing the number of abortions in a given state — and those with some of the higher abortion rates and abortion figures have passed the fewest pro-life laws.
“The results reveal that legislative action at the state level is turning the tide toward life with strategic refinement of the law,” she said. “We are seeing a cultural shift toward protecting life and rolling back the tide of unrestricted abortions that Roe v. Wade produced.”
Yoest said that the model legislation AUL specializes in — the group offers 38 pieces of model legislation on various pro-life topics — is “changing the momentum towards life at the state level.” Some of the legislation includes drafting opt-out language for states that do not wish to pay for President Obama’s health care plan that includes abortion coverage.
Following Oklahoma in leading the way as the most pro-life states in the nation are Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, and Texas. The state rankings haven’t changed much over the last two years as Louisiana led in 2010 and was followed by Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas. In 2009, Pennsylvania led with Louisiana and South Dakota following.
The bottom five include New Jersey, Vermont, Hawaii, and California in addition to Washington state. That was essentially the same in 2010 and, in 2009, California was the most pro-abortion state followed by Hawaii and Vermont.
AUL released the Life List in advance of the Saturday anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and also announced a national initiative — a petition to influence the national abortion debate by targeting the millions of tax dollars going to abortions. Yoest talked about the “Life Counts” campaign to support federal legislation ending national taxpayer funding of abortions.
“Common ground on the abortion issue is possible when we begin with the fact that no tax money should go to abortion, a principle violated by the Democratic leadership in the health care law,” said Yoest. “The new pro-life leadership in the House will find that defunding Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, is essential to protecting life.”
In evaluating and ranking the 50 states, AUL looked at laws in five primary areas: laws related to abortion including informed consent, parental involvement, abortion clinic regulations, limitations on funding for abortion, and support of abortion alternatives; laws that protect unborn victims of violence; and related to biotechnologies including human cloning, stem-cell research, uses of prenatal and genetic testing, and assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization. They also evaluated laws impacting the end of life and laws protecting the freedom of conscience of health care providers, institutions, and payers.
“In our analysis, we look beyond the mere existence of a law to the actual substance and practical effect of the law. Using this state-specific information and taking into account the unique political realities of each state, we have also identified key opportunities for each state in 2011 and beyond,’ Yoest said.
About Oklahoma’s status as the most pro-life state, AUL said: “Over the past few years, the state has aggressively pursued and implemented a comprehensive agenda of life-affirming initiatives. Among the measures recently enacted in Oklahoma are an ultrasound requirement, limits on the provision of RU-486, coerced abortion prevention, and protections for health care freedom of conscience. Moreover, in 2009, Oklahoma became the first state to enact AUL’s innovative Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act, permitting pregnant women to use force to protect their unborn children from criminal assaults.”
Washington surpassed California as the least pro-life state following its approval of a ballot initiative permitting assisted suicide in November 2008. Moreover, as a result of the adoption of a state Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), Washington lacks the most basic protections for women considering abortion.
The List’s most improved states for 2011 were Missouri and Arizona.
The 2011 AUL pro-life ranking:
8. North Dakota
9. South Dakota
19. South Carolina
27. Rhode Island
29. North Carolina
33. West Virginia
36. New Hampshire
38. New Mexico
41. New York
46. New Jersey