Pro-life leaders and Republican lawmakers are working on federal legislation to protect unborn babies from abortion in hopes that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade this summer, the Washington Post reported this week.
For nearly five decades, Roe has prevented state and federal lawmakers from enacting abortion bans before an unborn baby is viable. As a result, more than 63 million unborn babies have been aborted in America.
But now, with the high court taking a Mississippi abortion case and refusing to block the Texas heartbeat law, pro-life advocates have renewed hope for the future of unborn babies’ right to life.
“The 50 years of standing at the Supreme Court’s door waiting for something to happen is over,” Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkins wrote in a post on Twitter Monday.
According to the newspaper, Hawkins’ organization and other pro-life groups have been talking with lawmakers about passing a federal abortion ban if Roe is overturned.
One option would be a heartbeat bill, which would ban abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy. A ban on abortions after 15 weeks, which is what the Supreme Court is considering in the Mississippi case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, is another possibility, though the newspaper noted that many pro-life groups would rather see stronger legal protections for unborn babies.
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Ultimately, the pro-life movement wants every unborn baby’s life to be protected from the moment of conception. But pro-life leaders also consider strategically what they can do to save the most unborn babies’ lives until that final goal is achievable.
Polls show stronger public support for a 15-week abortion ban, meaning there is a greater likelihood of it passing Congress and saving tens of thousands of unborn babies’ lives annually. However, most unborn babies are aborted prior to 15 weeks, so hundreds of thousands of unborn babies still could be legally aborted every year.
Here’s more from the report:
Students for Life Action, along with nine other prominent antiabortion groups, plans to send a letter to every Republican member of Congress on Monday pushing them to embrace a “heartbeat bill.” The letter, which the group shared with The Washington Post, argues that a national 15-week ban would not go far enough.
A heartbeat bill would ban most abortions and save hundreds of thousands of unborn babies every year.
The Washington Post named two prominent pro-life U.S. Senators who support the legislation, James Lankford, of Oklahoma, and Joni Ernst, of Iowa. Lankford told the newspaper that a group of Republicans in the U.S. Senate have talked about a heartbeat bill at several meetings.
If Roe goes, passing the legislation still would be an uphill battle in Congress. Pro-life advocates would need a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate and a pro-life president or veto-proof majorities in both houses.
But pro-life advocates are used to a difficult fight, and leaders already are talking with future presidential candidates about whether they would support such legislation.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, told the newspaper that most of the 10 possible Republican candidates whom she has spoken with thus far support federal legislation to ban the killing of unborn babies.
The only candidate named in the report who would not support such a ban is former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who said he believes “the states should be making those decisions.”
Pro-life advocates are working at the state and local levels, too, to protect unborn babies from abortion through legislation, education and resources. But the idea of a federal law to protect unborn babies nationwide no longer seems impossible.
Dannenfelser told the newspaper that the Texas heartbeat law, which has been in effect since September, has brought renewed hope to the movement.
“Texas catapulted that bill into the public conversation and the public eye,” Dannenfelser said, hoping the pro-life law will become “consensus legislation.”
Hawkins told the Post: “Nearly 65% of all abortions have been illegal in Texas since September 1st, and somehow women are still free to be women. It’s like shocking, I know.”
Pro-life lawmakers in Congress have introduced multiple pro-life bills this year, but Democrats control both chambers so there is little chance of them passing. Very few pro-life Democrats remain in office, and there are a few pro-abortion Republicans who consistently vote against legislation to save unborn babies and defund the abortion industry.
Of course, no one knows for sure what the Supreme Court will do with the Mississippi case. Some believe the high court may chip away at Roe, rather than overturn it altogether, and allow states to protect unborn babies after 15 weeks but not before. A ruling on the Mississippi case is expected in June.