- - Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Roe v. Wade is built on a foundation of lies, handed down by an unelected Supreme Court with sweeping disregard for the views of ordinary Americans. As the 43rd anniversary of this controversial decision nears, Americans United for Life and its pro-life allies continue to expose the dangerous falsehoods propagated by an unrepentant abortion industry desperate to sustain Roe and its legacy of under-regulated, undersupervised abortion on demand, even in the face of clear evidence of abortion’s harms to mothers and destruction of their unborn children.

Among the abortion industry’s fraudulent claims is the assertion that a woman’s interests are often at odds with those of her unborn child. To maintain any semblance of public support for their radical pro-abortion agenda, Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocates work to convince both judges and the American public that abortion is beneficial to women and that bearing children carries higher risks for women’s health and social mobility.

Importantly, abortion advocates make these false claims in an environment in which reliable abortion data is a myth. U.S. abortion data is voluntarily and often selectively submitted by abortion providers, with some states reporting nothing at all. Even the most widely reported data come from estimates, subject to human error. In fact, “it’s impossible to say how safe abortion is in the United States when only 26 states require providers to report injuries and complications from abortion,” according to analysis by John Thorpe, a professor and director of Women’s Primary Healthcare in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and Clarke Forsythe, senior counsel for Americans United for Life.

In light of the growing national and international body of medical research and evidence of abortion’s harms to women, state legislators are working to protect women from a predatory abortion industry by standardizing health and safety requirements for abortion providers. Americans United for Life’s just-released 2016 Life List and Life List All-Stars reflect the unique focus of our mother-child strategy, which recognizes that abortion harms both mother and child and demonstrates that the interests of women and their unborn children are inextricably intertwined. Simply, protecting and defending unborn babies also protects and defends women.

The Life List’s top states — Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi — have taken bold steps to defend women and their children from dangerous but highly profitable late-term abortions, from medically substandard conditions in many of the nation’s abortion facilities, and from recently exposed abortion industry profiteering from the broken bodies of aborted infants. Model language featured in Americans United for Life’s highly successful Women’s Protection Project and the newly released Infants’ Protection Project, along with an increasing volume of supporting medical evidence, has figured prominently in many of these new legal safeguards.

These complementary compilations of model legislation are crafted to protect women and their unborn children to the greatest extent permitted by the U.S. Constitution and the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence. They provide immediate legal protection and also lay the groundwork for the day when women, the courts and the American public unequivocally reject the counterfeit promises of the abortion industry and see abortion not as a purported panacea but as a grave threat to both women and their children.

Arkansas, the 2016 top Life List All-Star, enacted seven measures placing common sense and medically supported limits on abortion. For example, Arkansas and Arizona were the first states in the nation to enact Americans United for Life’s Abortion Pill Reversal Information Act, ensuring that women are provided information on the potential reversal of chemical abortions. It also enhanced the legal protections provided by its parental consent law and prohibited the disbursement of federal and state funds to entities performing abortions or making abortion referrals.

Conversely, states at the bottom of the Life List, including Washington, California and New York, have blatantly ignored the growing evidence of abortion’s harms and, instead, adhere to thoroughly discredited abortion propaganda. Believing that women must have unfettered access to abortion clinics, these states seem content to place women at the mercy of an increasingly suspect abortion industry.

As the 2016 state legislative sessions open, there is already significant interest in the Infants’ Protection Project, especially Americans United for Life’s Unborn Infants Dignity Act. This innovative, new model legislation ensures that all deceased infants receive respectful treatment, and that families are informed of options for burials and of the availability of fetal death certificates. Moreover, in light of the evolving and shameful scandal involving Planned Parenthood’s trafficking of fetal body parts, the language also prohibits the financial or scientific exploitation of the bodies of aborted infants.

The inhumanity of burning aborted infants for fuel or dumping their bodies in a landfill is an anathema to a civil society.

There is also considerable interest in health and safety standards for both abortion clinics and individual abortion providers. This interest will likely intensify as the Supreme Court prepares to hear Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, a challenge to abortion provider requirements enacted in 2013 by perpetual Americans United for Life All-Star Texas.

The states remain a key battleground in the defense of life. State legislatures across the country continue to break new ground protecting women and their children from the negative consequences of abortion. This promising trend is likely to continue in 2016 and will bring us closer to the wholesale rejection of the false promises of Roe.

Denise M. Burke is vice president of legal affairs at Americans United for Life.

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