Clearly, the reelection of President Obama was a blow to the pro-life cause. However, those of us committed to defending the lives of unborn children – and the wellbeing of their mothers – should take heart from the progress that we made in recent years, in spite of our pro-abortion president. With Thanksgiving approaching, it is appropriate to review seven standout pro-life developments, and give thanks.
- A record number of pro-life laws are being enacted in the states.
In 2012, at least 60 new life-affirming laws, including at least 38 measures related to abortion, were enacted. Additionally, 16 pro-life state resolutions were adopted. This follows on the heels of 2011, when, 47 states considered more than 460 measures related to abortion, the overwhelming majority of which were pro-life. More than 70 of these life-affirming, abortion-related measures were enacted.
These include prohibitions on government funding of or insurance coverage for abortion, legislation or resolutions related to pregnancy care centers, informed consent and parental involvement legislation, ultrasound requirements, restrictions on or regulation of abortion-inducing drugs and “telemed” abortions, and abortion clinic regulations.
- Assisted suicide advocates fail again.
Massachusetts’ voters protected vulnerable people facing the end of life by rejecting a 2012 initiative legalizing physician assisted-suicide. Massachusetts’ life-affirming action continues a trend of states defeating the efforts of euthanasia advocates to legalize assisted suicide. In 2012, Georgia responded to an adverse state Supreme Court decision by enacting a law that makes it a felony to assist in another person’s suicide. In 2011, the people of Idaho responded to pressure from euthanasia advocates to “find” legal recognition of physician-assisted suicide within their existing law by enacting a new law prohibiting it.
In 2010, a Connecticut court held that the state’s manslaughter statute “does not include any exception from prosecution for physicians who assist another individual to commit suicide.” Further, in Montana, efforts to codify the state supreme court’s opinion that state law does not prohibit assisted suicide have failed
According to a May 23, 2012 Gallup poll, the percentage of Americans who identify themselves as “pro-choice” has hit a record-low at 41%. The poll demonstrates that “Americans now tilt ‘pro-life’ by nine-point margin, 50% to 41%.” Further, a 2011 Gallup poll examined American attitudes towards common pro-life laws. The poll demonstrated, among other things, that 87% of Americans support informed consent laws, 71% support parental consent requirements, and 64% support laws that would make it illegal to perform a partial birth abortion. In 2009, 7 in 10 Americans expressed opposition to the inclusion of abortion coverage in healthcare reform. In sum, a majority of Americans call themselves pro-life, and many who do not nonetheless support regulations of the practice.
- Abortion providers are facing increased public scrutiny.
Congress launched the first ever investigation of the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood’s true colors have been exposed by undercover investigations, some of which demonstrated the willingness of their affiliates to be complicit in sex trafficking of young girls. Further, individuals who have left the abortion industry are increasingly willing to talk about their experiences. Some—such as Abby Johnson, Sue Thayer, and Karen Reynolds—are filing lawsuits that give insight to improprieties and bad practices within the abortion business.
- There have been significant court victories for life.
While we wait for the day when the United States Supreme Court—and many state supreme courts—finally recognize that there is not a constitutional right to abortion, lower courts continue to churn out decisions that impact abortion-related legislation. While some of these decisions have not been positive, others have brought great victory. Here are three examples from 2012:
- The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Planned Parenthood’s challenge to a 2004 Ohio law regulating the abortion drug RU-486.[i] This was the first circuit to hear such a case, and the result is a promising development for protecting women from inappropriate use of dangerous drugs by abortion providers.
- The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld South Dakota’s “suicide advisory”—the portion of its informed consent law requiring that women be informed that there is an increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide following abortion.[ii]
- The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 2011 Texas ultrasound law, finding that performing an ultrasound and checking for fetal heartbeat are both “routine measures in pregnancy medicine today” and viewed as “medically necessary” for the mother and unborn child. The Fifth Circuit ruled that providing this information is “the epitome of truthful, non-misleading information.” [iii]
- A pro-life House of Representatives will continue to provide life-affirming leadership and prevent enactment of anti-life laws.
The U.S. House of Representatives retained the eleven pro-life freshmen elected in 2010, and picked up several new pro-life Members. While enacting new federal pro-life laws will be impossible with pro-abortion leadership in the Senate and in the White House, we can rest assured that pro-life leadership in the House will fight to keep critical restrictions on public funding for abortions in appropriations bills. Further, the House will not debate or pass anti-life legislation, such as the “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA).
- Republican gains in the Senate were pro-life gains.
Historically, gaining a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate did not guarantee gaining a pro-life majority; in fact, many Republican Senators were pro-abortion or lacked a passion for protecting unborn children. However, while the Republicans did not gain a majority in the Senate this year, the three new members of the caucus are passionately pro-life; further, the number of pro-abortion Republican Senators is dwindling. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) no longer stands alone as the only pro-life woman in the U.S. Senate—she is now joined by Senator Deb Fischer from Nebraska. Arizonans replaced pro-life Senator Jon Kyl with House Member Jeff Flake, a committed advocate for pro-life legislation. In Texas, Kay Bailey Hutchison, whose record on abortion was mixed, will be replaced with Ted Cruz, who holds solid pro-life views.
While pro-life Americans will need to vigorously monitor actions by the President during the next four years, there is much to be thankful for this year. Nearly forty years after Roe v. Wade, we have made solid accomplishments in our efforts to protect unborn children and their mothers. This is certainly something to think about as we celebrate next week with our families and friends.
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[i] Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio v. DeWine, 696 F.3d 490 (6th Cir. 2012).
[ii] Planned Parenthood v. Rounds, 686 F.3d 889 (8th Cir. 2012).
[iii] Texas Med. Providers Performing Abortion Serv. v. Lakey, 667 F.3d 570, 578, 579 (5th Cir. 2012).