By Lois Anderson
On January 22, 2019, the 46th anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the so-called Reproductive Health Act. Among other provisions, it eliminated limits on third-trimester abortions in New York. Attendees at the signing cheered and the top of One World Trade Center was lit pink to extol their support of late-term abortions. This over-the-top celebration shocked many Americans and helped them become more aware of the extreme policies abortion supporters are pushing.
New York City already has the highest abortion rate in the country. This was not enough for abortion rights advocates and the abortion industry. Any limitation on abortion providers or protection for a developing child is “too much.” Before the shock of New York’s action was over, along came Virginia, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Mexico, and Illinois with their own versions.
What about Oregon? Sadly, we have no protections to repeal. In 1969, abortion was legalized through the passage of Senate Bill 193. It did include some restrictions and basic protections. The Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions established a national abortion policy rendering that 1969 law unenforceable. In 1983, the Oregon Legislature repealed it all together to get if off the books in case Roe or Doe were overturned. This means that even if Roe is overturned or undermined, Oregon’s extreme abortion policies will continue.
Unlike Oregon, many states left their abortion restrictions on the books. The effort to remove these restrictions has been a long-term goal of the abortion industry and their allies. Now there is a sense of urgency driven by a belief that there is a real possibility that the Supreme Court will overturn or severely weaken Roe. Should that happen, the regulation of abortion will be increasingly in the hands of individual states.
According to a recent report by the Guttmacher Institute dated March 1 of this year, only 10 states “protect” the right to abortion. The report explains that “a reversal of Roe could establish a legal path for states’ pre-1973 abortion bans, as well as currently unenforced post-1973 bans, to take effect.”
The attention drawn by these developments has thrust us into a national discussion about abortion. Late-term abortion is not new. Babies survive abortion only to be abandoned to death without even comfort care. However, the spectacle of celebrating late-term abortion in New York and the defense of infanticide by the Governor of Virginia has pulled back the curtain and reminded Americans of the ugliness of abortion-on-demand in a new way.
The significance of these events has eluded the national leaders of the Democratic Party. In response to the legislation in several states, Republican U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (Nebraska) brought the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act to a vote. The six Democrat senators running for president voted against the bill.
Americans don’t like what they are seeing. A new Marist Poll shows a dramatic shift in opinions about abortion. Conducted in mid-February, the poll reveals a double-digit shift: “Americans are now as likely to identify as pro-life (47 percent) as pro-choice (47 percent). Just last month, a similar survey conducted by the Marist Poll found Americans more likely to identify as pro-choice than as pro-life by 17 percentage points (55 to 38).” Barbara Carvalho, director of The Marist Poll stated, “Current proposals that promote late-term abortion have reset the landscape and language on abortion in a pronounced — and very measurable — way.”
The long-term result of the national attention on the brutality of late-term abortion and the unthinkable practice of infanticide of the surviving children is uncertain. What is certain is that this is an important moment that will impact America’s view of abortion on demand.