As 2012 draws to a close, it is that time of year when we take stock of what we’ve accomplished and look ahead to the future. For pro-life Americans, the victories are numerous, and despite the November election, the outlook is bright.
In 2010, we saw more than 20 state legislative chambers flip control and become more receptive to pro-life legislation. Additionally, 19 pro-life governors were elected, 11 of whom won seats previously held by abortion supporters. All four pro-life female gubernatorial candidates won their races and outnumber pro-abortion female governors 2-1.
Those electoral successes led to huge gains in new pro-life laws. In 2011, more than 500 new pro-life bills were introduced across the country, and more than 90 of them became law — a 50 percent increase over previous years. States also enacted new laws on legal recognition and protection of the unborn, conscience, biotechnologies and the end of life.
This trend continued into 2012. Despite its being an election year, with many state legislative chambers operating on a shorter schedule or not at all, we saw another 350 new pro-life bills introduced. Of those, more than 60 became law, including at least 38 on abortion and 11 furthering legal recognition and protection of the unborn in contexts outside abortion, such as South Carolina’s enactment of Americans United for Life’s (AUL) model bill protecting infants born alive from failed abortions.
Of those new laws, at least 25 states considered measures related to abortion funding. At least 10 states included such provisions in their state budgets. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a budget bill that would have given $7.5 million to family-planning organizations such as Planned Parenthood.
Alabama, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wisconsin all enacted laws opting out of the pro-abortion provisions of Obamacare in order to prevent funding abortions through the insurance plans in their states. Several used AUL’s model language. Eighteen states have acted to block this federal overreach.
Also on the subject of Obamacare, at least 18 states considered measures related to freedom of conscience. Thirteen states introduced resolutions opposing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring nearly all insurance plans to fully cover “all FDA-approved contraceptives,” which include the abortion-inducing drug ella.
A large number of states looked to provide enhanced protections for women. Eighteen states considered measures relating to requiring an ultrasound before an abortion. Ultrasounds are lifesaving procedures that not only protect women’s health but also give women more information about their unborn child before they make a final decision on abortion. Virginia enacted the bill despite a vicious attack by abortion advocates, who were able to perpetuate lies about the bill on MSNBC, “The Daily Show” and “Saturday Night Live.” Another three states upgraded their ultrasound laws to higher standards.
Planned Parenthood’s latest attempt to pad its bottom line through abortion expansion uses “telemedicine,” in which a physician sees the woman only via a webcam over the Internet and then prescribes abortion-inducing medicine. This was stopped with new laws in several states, including Arizona and Wisconsin.
States also continue to respond to the horrific conditions inside the Philadelphia abortion clinic headed by Kermit Gosnell, where investigators needed hazmat suits to do their jobs. At least 19 states considered measures regulating abortion clinics or individual abortion providers. Virginia’s new law regulating abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical centers is expected to take effect soon and likely will result in the closure of several substandard clinics.
Many states continue to support life-affirming pregnancy care centers. Alaska allocated $200,000 for the creation of a pregnancy center in the state and established a “Choose Life” license plate. Eight other states adopted resolutions based on or similar to AUL’s model honoring the life-affirming mission of pregnancy centers.
Elsewhere at the ballot box on Nov. 6, Montana overwhelmingly approved a measure to require parental notification before abortions performed on minors. Voters in four states also voiced their strong objection to Obamacare by prohibiting enforcement of the individual mandate. Opponents of Obamacare won by huge margins, with the smallest victory being 18 points in Alabama. In Wyoming, the effort to protect the freedom of individuals won by an astonishing 52 points.
Concerning the end of life, efforts to weaken protective laws limiting physician-assisted suicide failed. Vermont yet again defeated such a measure. After Georgia’s Supreme Court struck down a 1994 law prohibiting public advertising of suicide assistance, the legislature passed a comprehensive ban on the practice.
Massachusetts turned away efforts to legalize assisted suicide via the ballot box. A vocal opponent of the measure was Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s widow, who gave a spirited defense of the assisted-suicide ban in the local media just before the vote.
Some have expressed concern about the impact of the November election on future pro-life victories. In fact, little has altered the sweeping changes of 2010. Washington remains divided, with the House of Representatives firmly pro-life and the president and Senate pro-abortion.
In the states, however, the situation is largely the same or has improved. Of the 12 state legislative chambers that changed party control, New Hampshire is the only state where it is no longer realistically viable to enact pro-life legislation. Alternatively, Alaska, Arkansas and Wisconsin have more viability for bills. Other states, such as Georgia, Indiana, Missouri and North Carolina, have pro-life supermajorities in charge.
Despite the gridlock in Washington, the states have had an extremely successful two years. With the current electoral situation across the country, that success will continue for the next two as well.
Dan McConchie is vice president of government affairs for Americans United for Life.