State lawmakers, acting on the will of the American people, passed 90 pro-life laws this year to protect unborn babies and mothers from abortion.
And in doing so, they are sending a message to the U.S. Supreme Court that it is time to reverse Roe v. Wade and protect vulnerable children in the womb.
Governing reports 2021 has been a record year for pro-life legislation, with more pro-life laws passed than any year since Roe in 1973.
These laws include a total ban on abortions in Arkansas, a ban on abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable in Texas, 20-week bans on pain-capable unborn babies in other states and, the latest, a law banning late-term abortions after 24 weeks in New Hampshire.
Other states are pushing back against President Joe Biden’s efforts to expand abortions. Arizona, Indiana and Montana passed new restrictions on abortion drugs to protect mothers and unborn babies around the same time as the Biden administration announced that it no longer will enforce federal safety regulations for the drugs.
In Iowa, Kansas and Kentucky, lawmakers also advanced state constitutional amendments that would make it clear there is no right to abortion or taxpayer-funded abortion in their states. The amendments must receive voters’ approval before they can be added; voters in Louisiana, West Virginia, Tennessee and other states already have approved similar amendments.
State lawmakers also are increasing efforts to help mothers and unborn babies, passing budgets with expanded pregnancy support funding and bills to allow unborn babies to qualify for child tax credits and child support.
According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, 89 pro-life laws passed in 26 states as of May 31. Last week, the total increased to 90 after New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed a state budget with a measure that bans abortions on viable, late-term unborn babies after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
All this and more have abortion activists worried about the future.
“Everything is pointing toward abortion rights being in serious jeopardy,” Elizabeth Nash, senior manager for state issues at the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, told Governing.
Pro-abortion groups especially are concerned about an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, that could lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The case challenges a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
“There is no way to uphold the core principle of Roe v. Wade and let that law stand,” Kristin Ford of NARAL Pro-Choice America told the news outlet. “Why would they have taken that case if they didn’t intend to change course?”
A few states, including Hawaii, New Mexico and Massachusetts, have passed pro-abortion laws to expand abortions, but most have moved in the opposite direction. A new Associated Press poll found strong public support for laws like Mississippi’s that prohibit abortions after the first trimester.
Gary Bauer, president of American Values, said it is significant that Americans’ views on abortion have not shifted much in the past five decades.
“When the Supreme Court has made really controversial decisions, or decisions seen as controversial at the time, over the decades the country accommodates itself to the new reality,” he told Governing. “That has not happened with abortion.”
Polls consistently show that Americans remain split between pro-life and pro-choice, and a solid majority oppose the current Supreme Court precedent that forces states to legalize abortions up until viability. Gallup polls find that a majority of Americans believe abortions should be illegal in all or most circumstances.