States Pass More Than 50 Pro-life Laws in 2017

Sharolyn Smith

This is a time of unprecedented momentum in passing pro-life laws. Over 30 percent of all such laws have been enacted in the last six years, with more than 50 each year since 2011. Examples include an Alabama law that allows health care providers to refuse to participate in abortion, an Arkansas law banning abortions that selectively target baby girls, a Nebraska law requiring that mothers diagnosed with a lethal fetal anomaly be informed about perinatal hospice care, and a Wyoming law that ensures that abortionists allow mothers to see their babies on ultrasound. Kentucky and Iowa became the 20th and 21st states to ban abortion after five months of gestation. Ohio banned abortions targeting babies diagnosed with Down syndrome, and Texas passed a fetal burial law.

In the first months of 2018, states have continued to move forward with pro-life legislation. Mississippi Governor Bryant signed a law banning abortion after 15 weeks. The following day, a federal judge blocked the law. In West Virginia, the legislature passed a constitutional amendment saying the state does not recognize abortion as a “right.” Joint Resolution 12 will go before voters in November. Indiana Governor Holcomb signed a law permitting murder charges against a person killing an unborn child while committing a felony. Another Indiana bill strengthens abortion reporting requirements and makes it harder to open new abortion facilities. South Dakota now requires women seeking abortion to be informed that an abortion ends the life of a “unique, human being” and to be informed of the physical and psychological risks of abortion. Florida Governor Scott signed a bill to fund pregnancy resource centers. Idaho Governor Otter signed a bill requiring women be told that abortion drugs may be reversed and their unborn baby’s life saved, along with stricter abortion reporting requirements. The Tennessee legislature codified an existing policy of Governor Haslam that prioritizes giving Title X family planning funds to the state health department rather than Planned Parenthood. Kentucky’s legislature passed a bill to ban dismemberment (D&E) abortions. Governor Bevin plans to sign the bill.

Fueling the passage of these laws is the fact that more than 3 in 4 Americans, including 60 percent who self-identify as pro-choice, favor major limitations on abortion. Sixty percent oppose taxpayer funding and 83 percent oppose supporting abortion in other countries. More than one-half of millennials believe abortion should be illegal in most circumstances. All this contributes to the dozens of pro-life laws that are currently on the horizon on the state and federal level.


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