In a just-released report from the Guttmacher Institute, more pro-life laws have passed in various states over the past three years than during the entire previous decade. State legislatures enacted 205 abortion restrictions from 2011 to 2013, contrasted with the 189 provisions enacted during the entire previous decade.
Guttmacher laments, "This legislative onslaught has dramatically changed the landscape for women needing abortion." Indeed, abortions are at historic lows. Further, public opinion has changed dramatically. According to Gallup, in 1996 more than half of Americans self-identified as pro-choice, compared to 33 percent who claimed to be pro-life. By 2013, pro-lifers exceeded the number of pro-choicers, 48 percent to 45 percent.
Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life, the legal arm of the pro-life movement, explained, "There is a movement afoot in our country today to hold the abortion industry accountable for their abuses." Ms. Yoest cited pro-life accomplishments: "This past year, we saw a notorious abortionist convicted of infanticide and manslaughter. We saw an unprecedented number of abortion clinics closed. We saw Texas pass an omnibus pro-life bill against virulent opposition and a high-profile filibuster. We saw the first-in-the-nation ban on abortions for genetic abnormalities and sex of the unborn baby."
Clearly, the relatively small pro-life organizations are winning the hearts of the American public — and its legislators — over the giant abortion industry and its powerful allies in the government and the media, and among the elites.
Penny Young Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, calls abortion "the seminal human rights issue of our time" and notes that since 1973, "the deaths of more than 54 million unborn children have been reported in the United States alone. Every year, approximately 1.21 million more unborn children will be aborted. And nearly 4,000 abortions are performed daily, as reported by National Right to Life. This is an injustice which must end."
Americans agree and worked at the national and state level to see changes in legislation across the nation. During 2013, 70 abortion restrictions were enacted in 22 states. They also pushed forward on the political front. Guttmacher lamented, "In addition, the 2012 elections brought changes to the legislature in Arkansas and the governor's mansion in North Carolina that created environments more hostile to abortion; after adopting no abortion restrictions in 2012, these two states together enacted 13 new restrictions in 2013."
The legislative strategies of the pro-life movement — focusing on restricting access to the procedure — are effective. Guttmacher identified four specific restrictions that "dominated the legislative scene during 2013: abortion bans, restrictions on abortion providers, limitations on the provision of medication abortion and restrictions on coverage of abortion in private health plans." The institute further noted, "Together, legislation in these four categories accounted for 56 percent of all restrictions enacted over the year. States also adopted a wide range of other major abortion restrictions in 2013, including those on parental involvement, public funding for abortion, waiting periods and counseling, and ultrasound."
While the abortion restrictions are reasonable, desirable and reflect common sense and due caution in regard to girls' and women's health and well-being, Guttmacher is troubled that "more states are hostile to abortion." In 2000, they report, only 13 states had abortion restrictions that they considered "hostile to abortion rights," but by 2013, that number had increased to 27 states. Equally troubling to Guttmacher is the fact that the number of "middle-ground states was cut in half, from 20 to 10." The most troubling factor to the pro-abortion forces, though, is the fact that the proportion of women living where abortion is readily available is dropping. Guttmacher reported, "The proportion of women living in restrictive states went from 31 percent to 56 percent, while the proportion living in supportive states fell from 40 percent to 31 percent over the same period."
Appallingly, the supposedly pro-woman Guttmacher Institute praised California — the only state in more than seven years to pass a new state law to expand access to abortion — for "expanding the types of providers permitted to perform either medication or surgical abortions." California now allows physician assistants, certified nurse midwives and nurse practitioners to provide abortions during the first trimester — a move that will certainly put California girls and women at risk.
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, who is not pro-life, talked about the changing attitudes toward abortion on the Fox News Channel as the "story of the year, culturally." He explained why the nation has become more pro-life. "The fact that people are becoming aware of how late-term abortions are so near to infanticide. And also how the new technology and the ultrasounds are giving people awareness of how much an infant has developed in the womb. So the movement has stopped, and I think reversed, especially among young people."
Guttmacher is right: The abortion landscape has dramatically changed. Mr. Krauthammer is also right: It was the story of the year for 2013.
Janice Shaw Crouse, is executive director and senior fellow, Concerned Women for America's Beverly LaHaye Institute.