In January, for the first time since 2006, a pro-life Senate majority was sworn into office after hard-fought victories in the 2014 elections. In addition to defending pro-life seats, the following either ousted a pro-abortion incumbent or flipped an open seat that had previously been in pro-abortion hands: Sens. Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Steve Daines of Montana, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia. All of these freshman senators currently hold a 100% voting record with National Right to Life.
Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act passed House, got first-ever Senate vote.
Sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, the historic pro-life bill to protect unborn babies capable of feeling pain at 20 weeks and older passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on May 13, 2015 by a vote of 242-184 (with 1 present and 5 not voting).
Prior to 2015, when pro-abortion Sen. Harry Reid held the majority leader post, the bill was never even considered in the Senate. On September 22, 2015, 54 senators voted to advance the bill, including 3 Democrats, while 42 voted against. Unfortunately, pro-life lawmakers fell short of the 60 votes required to invoke cloture and advance the bill.
See how your elected officials voted here.
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Dismemberment Abortion Ban enacted in 2 states, introduced in Congress.
An innovative new bill, based on model legislation drafted by National Right to Life, was signed into law in Kansas and Oklahoma. The law protects unborn babies from a gruesome abortion method that involves tearing their tiny bodies limb from limb. The bill specifically prohibits the following:
“knowingly dismembering a living unborn child and extracting such unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus through the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors or similar instruments that, through the convergence of two rigid levers, slice, crush or grasp a portion of the unborn child’s body in order to cut or rip it off…”
In September, Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey introduced a federal version of the bill (the Dismemberment Abortion Ban Act, H.R. 3515). The legislation, in addition to protecting unborn babies, has tremendous persuasive power in the national abortion debate. The pro-abortion movement is forced to play defense when confronted with the brutal reality of what happens to an unborn child in an abortion.
Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act became law in West Virginia and Wisconsin.
West Virginia and Wisconsin became the two latest states to protect unborn babies 20 weeks and older from abortion, by which point scientific and medical evidence shows they can feel pain. Wisconsin’s bill advanced through the Legislature and was signed into law by pro-life Governor Scott Walker. In West Virginia, the Legislature pulled off a major victory when it mustered the votes to override the veto of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
Latest CDC Report Showed Abortions at Record Low.
The latest report from the Center for Disease Control found that in 2012, 699,000 unborn babies lost their lives to abortion. That’s a decline from the previous year when that number was 730,322–31,000 fewer abortions in just one year’s time! According to the report, “The abortion rate for 2012 was 13.2 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, and the abortion ratio was 210 abortions per 1,000 live births.” The report also notes that chemical abortions (RU-486) rose in 2012 and now constitute 20.8% of all abortions.
As NRL Director of Education Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon explained, “Relying on reports from 47 state health departments, the CDC reported the lowest figure the agency has recorded since 1973, the year the Supreme Court first legalized abortion on demand. This figure, however, does not include abortions from California, the nation’s most populous state, or from New Hampshire or Maryland.”
Undercover Videos Exposed Planned Parenthood Practices.
One of the most newsworthy events of the year was the release of a series of undercover videos from the Center for Medical Progress that exposed Planned Parenthood’s harvesting and trafficking of aborted baby body parts. If you haven’t seen them, you can watch all the videos on YouTube.
The videos sparked a broad inquiry into the practices of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. Two congressional hearings were held on the topic. National Right to Life’s General Counsel Jim Bopp testified that existing laws and regulations are not sufficient to prevent these abuses and protect the unborn.
In addition, on several occasions in 2015, both the U.S. House and Senate voted on bills that would bar federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Both legislative bodies approved a reconciliation bill that would defund the abortion provider. (The House will approve the final version of the bill in early January.) See how your elected officials voted here.
2016 Presidential Race Kicked Off in Earnest.
Even if you don’t live in early voting states like Iowa or New Hampshire, you probably heard about the upcoming presidential race in 2015. The Democrats and the Republicans offer a stark contrast on pro-life issues. The major contenders for the Republicans are pro-life while the major contenders for the Democrats support a policy of abortion on demand. Want to learn where all the candidates stand on key pro-life issues? Check out this fact sheet from National Right to Life.
SCOTUS announced it will hear the case challenging the 2013 Texas pro-life omnibus bill known as HB2.
In what will be a very significant abortion case, the Supreme Court will weigh in on two components of Texas’s HB2, passed in 2013 after temporarily being stalled by a filibuster led by state Senator Wendy Davis. The first requires Texas abortion facilities to be regulated as ambulatory surgical centers and the second requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital for situations of medical emergencies. The decision will have ramifications beyond Texas since other states have enacted similar legislation. The timing of the case could also have an impact on the 2016 presidential race. The court announced in December that the case will be heard on March 2, 2016. The decision will likely come by the end of June, right in the midst of the presidential contest.
Successful National Right to Life Convention in New Orleans
Pro-life leaders and grassroots activists gathered in New Orleans for the 45th annual National Right to Life Convention on July 9-11, 2015. The three-day conference included a presidential forum featuring Dr. Ben Carson, Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Rick Santorum and Sen. Marco Rubio. Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz were unable to attend but prepared video messages for attendees. On a special night of the convention, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal also addressed attendees. Speakers at the convention also included Dr. George Delgado, the doctor who developed a technique aimed at reversing RU-486 abortions, Rachel Campos-Duffy, Mary Matalin, Sen. Bill Cassidy, Sen. David Vitter, John McCormack of The Weekly Standard, and Duck Dynasty stars Alan, Lisa and Miss Kay Robertson.
The 2016 National Right to Life Convention will be held in the Washington D.C. area on July 7-9. For more information, check out nrlconvention.com.
These events were certainly highlights for the pro-life movement. In addition, a flurry of states enacted measures aimed at protecting unborn babies and their mothers, including webcam abortion bans, parental involvement laws and informed consent laws. The pro-life movement’s successes in 2015 led pro-abortion writer Michelle Goldberg to label 2015 “a terrible year for abortion-rights.” Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, warned her organization’s members that the very end of Roe v. Wade was around the corner. We must work to build on the successes of 2015 and pave the way for the day when every child is welcomed in life and protected under law.