- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

What would happen if Roe v. Wade were overturned tomorrow? Regardless of how far in the future that day might be, states already are preparing for this eventuality.

When Roe is overturned, the 50 states and the American people will resume their rightful roles as the arbiters of abortion law and policy. No longer will the U.S. Supreme Court function as a de facto national abortion control board, deciding for the entire country which abortions will be permitted and which duly-enacted state limitations on abortion will be enforced.

Contrary to the shrill rhetoric of abortion advocates, when Roe finally is dismantled, abortion likely will remain legal in much of the nation. In fact, as it stands today, on the day Roe falls, abortion will continue to be legal in more than 40 states.

What will have changed will be that the Supreme Court will be out of the way and our civil discourse will take over once again. We will resolve this issue as we and our fellow countrymen historically have resolved our most contentious issues - through vigorous debate among ourselves and through our elected leaders.

In fact, that vigorous debate has begun already. As Americans United for Life’s (AUL) annual Life List shows, states continue to update and strengthen their abortion laws. They are not waiting for the Supreme Court. Instead, they are seizing the initiative and actively laying the groundwork for the “day after Roe.” Many states are enacting sweeping and cutting-edge legislation that rolls back the regime of “abortion on demand” and protects both women and their unborn children from the harms inherent in abortion. In 2010, the states considered more than 300 abortion-related measures, enacting 29 of them. Notably, nearly a quarter of the states considered constitutional amendments or other measures to ban or significantly limit the availability of abortion. And 2011 is shaping up to be an even more promising year.

The Life List’s top state, Oklahoma, and its most improved states, Missouri and Arizona, are perfect examples of the value of consistently introducing, debating and ultimately enacting life-affirming legislation. These states have not rested on prior accomplishments or limited their activity to traditional abortion-related measures such as parental involvement or informed consent. Instead, working with AUL and others, they have developed innovative legislation that addresses important and emerging issues, such as abortion coverage in the newly required state health insurance exchanges, sex-selective abortions, substandard conditions in abortion clinics and the provision of RU-486 in direct violation of Food and Drug Administration-approved protocol.

Persistence is critical to a state’s success. For example, in 2006, AUL ranked Oklahoma at No. 15. During the next five years, the state aggressively prioritized life-affirming legislation, passing a number of laws, including an ultrasound requirement; coerced abortion prevention, recognition of unborn victims of criminal violence and legal protections for health care providers who refuse to participate in abortions. As a result, Oklahoma rose systematically in the ranking, reaching the top spot this year for the first time ever.

A number of states already are seeking to dethrone Oklahoma and claim the mantle as the Life List’s most pro-life state in 2012. It won’t be just one particular state or region of the country that will see pro-life legislative advances this year. The movement has national implications, thanks to a net pickup of 12 new pro-life governors and hundreds of new, enthusiastic pro-life legislators in the last election.

Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Texas are all within striking distance of Oklahoma. All either maintained or expanded their pro-life leadership in November’s election. However, Oklahoma won’t go down without a fight. Legislators there are expected to introduce at least seven pro-life bills this month. Other states, including Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin, also look to make substantial upgrades to their laws in 2011, thanks to an increased pro-life presence in the legislature.

The top legislative initiative in 2011 undoubtedly will be the politically popular opt-out of the abortion mandate in the federal health care law. Close behind will be bans on abortion after 20 weeks (when risks to the mother increase exponentially), increased regulation of abortion-inducing drugs, and public recognition of the lifesaving work of pregnancy care centers, which are under increasing attacks from radical abortion activists.

Jan. 22 marks the 38th anniversary of the infamous and controversial decision that has resulted in more than 50 million abortions since 1973. No one disputes that theRoe v. Wadedecision failed to end the public debate over abortion. In fact, millions of Americans have committed themselves to the cause of seeing Roeoverturned. Thousands more work every day to realize the vision of every human being welcomed in life and protected in law. Our elected state leaders increasingly share this vision. They’re working to make it a reality.

The states will be ready for the “day after Roe.” State by state and law by law, they already are leading the way to a more pro-life America.

Denise Burke is vice president of legal affairs for Americans United for Life. Daniel McConchie is vice president of government affairs for AUL.

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