2021 has been an historic year for life in America.
At national, state and local levels, pro-life leaders took action to protect unborn babies from abortion in ways that could significantly change the future — not only of laws and policies but also of generations of children and families for years to come.
States like Texas and South Carolina passed laws to protect unborn babies by banning abortions once their heartbeat is detectable, and local cities and counties passed pro-life ordinances and resolutions declaring their support for unborn babies’ right to life. A record 106 pro-life state laws also passed in 2021, according to the Guttmacher Institute, including total abortion bans that could protect tens of thousands of unborn babies every year if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
At the national level, pro-life lawmakers in Congress managed to stave off radical pro-abortion legislation to get rid of the Hyde Amendment and force taxpayers to fund abortions, and the U.S. Supreme Court heard a major challenge to Roe from Mississippi.
First, and perhaps most significant, is the Texas heartbeat law, which prohibits abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy. It the first pre-viability abortion ban that the Supreme Court has allowed to go into effect since Roe in 1973, and pro-life leaders estimate thousands of unborn babies’ lives already have been saved.
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The heartbeat law has the potential to save tens of thousands of unborn babies from abortion every year. In 2020, about 54,000 unborn babies were aborted in Texas, and about 85 percent happened after six weeks of pregnancy, according to state health statistics.
Pro-abortion groups still are challenging the law in court, but the Supreme Court watered down their case in a December ruling and Texas abortion businesses say they may be forced to close permanently if the law remains in effect much longer.
Second, the U.S. Senate has been a buffet against radical pro-abortion legislation thanks, in part, to Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia. Democrats who control the U.S. House and Senate want to get rid of the Hyde Amendment and force taxpayers to fund abortions, a widely unpopular move; but Manchin has remained steadfastly pro-life, joining Republicans in opposing legislation like President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill and the misnamed Women’s Health Protection Act, both of which would force taxpayers to fund abortions.
Third, some Catholic bishops have become increasingly vocal about the evil of abortion and the supposedly Catholic politicians like Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who support it. They have expressed serious concerns that these politicians, through their prominence and actions, are creating “scandal” for the church by making it seem acceptable to be Catholic and support the killing of unborn babies in abortions.
In particular, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Tyler, Texas Bishop Joseph Strickland and Cardinal Raymond Burke, have been strong in their insistence that Biden and Pelosi repent and stop supporting abortion if they want to continue to receive Communion.
Fourth, while many federal politicians are working to expand abortions, local government leaders are doing the opposite. The year brought a wealthy of grassroots support for unborn babies’ right to life through Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinances and pro-life resolutions in dozens of municipalities in Texas, Arkansas, Ohio, North Carolina and Nebraska.
These include more than 40 Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinances in Texas, Nebraska and Ohio that ban abortions within city limits. These ordinances are enforceable legislation that protect unborn babies by prohibiting abortions within city limits.
More than a dozen Arkansas municipalities also passed pro-life resolutions that declare their cities and towns to be sanctuaries for the unborn.
Fifth, the actions of the U.S. Supreme Court suggest there are strong reasons to hope for a better future for unborn babies in 2022.
Not only did the justices refuse to block the Texas heartbeat law twice, they also heard a major Mississippi abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, in December that directly challenges Roe v. Wade.
Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch told the high court that its abortion decisions are “egregiously wrong,” and states should be allowed to protect unborn babies from abortion again.
“This court should overrule Roe and Casey,” she told the court earlier this year. “They have proven hopelessly unworkable. Nothing but a full break from those cases can stem the harms they have caused.”
A decision from the Supreme Court is unlikely until next year, but, given the conservative majority on the court and its unusual decision to allow the Texas law to remain in effect, pro-life advocates are more hopeful than ever that the victories in 2021 will lead to even greater victories for life in 2022.