State lawmakers have introduced more than 230 pro-life bills across the country already this year, spurred by new hope that the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade this summer.
The high court’s recent refusals to block the Texas heartbeat law, coupled with its decision to hear a Mississippi ban on abortions after 15 weeks, have renewed pro-life advocates’ hopes that states soon will be allowed to protect unborn babies again.
BuzzFeed News noted the trend in a piece over the weekend that criticized pro-life efforts.
“Emboldened by confidence that the US Supreme Court will disintegrate abortion rights later this year, conservative lawmakers are rushing to introduce and pass anti-abortion legislation,” the piece began.
It cited research from the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research group, which found that more than 230 pro-life bills have been introduced in 39 state legislatures already this year. These include bills modeled after the Texas heartbeat law in Nebraska, Arkansas, Idaho and Oklahoma, and legislation similar to the Mississippi 15-week ban in Florida, West Virginia and Arizona.
Altogether, the state legislation could lead to tens of thousands of unborn babies being saved from abortions every year. The Florida bill alone, which is expected to pass, would save as many as 5,000 unborn babies annually, and the Texas heartbeat law already has saved thousands more since it went into effect in September.
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Here’s more from BuzzFeed:
If the court rules in favor of Mississippi, the door to more early-term abortion bans, or laws banning the procedure outright, could swing wide open for every anti-abortion state legislature in the country.
“We are at a critical juncture for abortion rights,” said Elizabeth Nash, interim associate director of state issues at the Guttmacher Institute.
Last year saw the most anti-abortion legislation ever. In 2021, 660 abortion restrictions were introduced as a part of more than 400 individual bills. Of those, more than 50 bills containing over 108 restrictions were enacted — more than in any other year since Roe was decided. That pace hasn’t shown signs of slowing in the first weeks of 2022, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion restrictions, and Planned Parenthood, which tracks specific bills. The number of abortion restrictions introduced in January 2022 is even higher than in the same month last year.
In December, the Supreme Court heard a major abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, that directly challenges Roe. Lawyers for the state of Mississippi urged the court to overturn its 1973 abortion ruling and allow states to protect unborn babies from abortion again.
In an amicus brief to the court, a group of 154 economists and researchers estimated that abortion numbers would drop by about 120,000 in the first year and potentially even more in subsequent years if the high court overturns Roe and allows states to ban abortions again.
The Guttmacher Institute estimates 26 states “are certain or likely to ban abortions” if the Supreme Court gets rid of Roe.
Currently, states are forced to legalize abortions for any reason up to viability under Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Because of these cases, the U.S. is one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions up to birth. Since 1973, about 63.5 million unborn babies and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of mothers have died in supposedly “safe,” legal abortions.
At issue in the Mississippi case is the question of “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortion are unconstitutional.” The Supreme Court likely will issue a ruling in June.
Pro-life advocates also are working to expand support services for pregnant and parenting moms in anticipation that Roe may be overturned.