Category archives: Abortion

Explainer: What Is Happening with Texas’ New Pro-Life Law?

by Katherine Beck Johnson

September 2, 2021

Roe v. Wade resulted from a challenge to a pro-life Texas law. Forty-eight years later, Texas is once again protecting life—but this time, so far, the U.S. Supreme Court has let those protections stand. Texas recently passed a law (known as Senate Bill 8) that restricts abortion after a heartbeat has been detected in the unborn child. This usually occurs around six weeks. It’s a strong law that protects the most vulnerable. Texas passed the law in the spring, and Governor Abbott signed it in May, days after the U.S. Supreme Court granted cert in the abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.

Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for an emergency injunction that would prevent the Texas law from going into effect. In past abortion cases, such as June Medical v. Russo (June Medical v. Gee at the time), the Court has stepped in before the pro-life bill took effect and blocked it. Texas had until 5 p.m. on Tuesday, August 31, to respond to Planned Parenthood’s emergency injunction request. Texas responded by saying that Planned Parenthood had no standing to bring the case. That is, they had no right to sue. Many stayed up until midnight on the evening of August 31 to see if the bill would go into effect or whether it would be blocked before it was set to become law on September 1. The Court did not issue any ruling as of midnight, so Texas has officially become the first state to successfully outlaw abortion past six weeks.

What’s different about the Texas law? It is enforced differently than most pro-life laws. Usually, if someone is challenging a state law, the state officials are the defendants. The Texas law actually bars state actors from enforcing it and instead allows private citizens to sue anyone who carries out an abortion procedure or anyone who “aids or abets” one. In theory, an abortionist will violate this law and then be sued by a private citizen. Women cannot be sued for attempting to obtain an abortion. But abortionists, clinic workers, and people who offer to pay for an abortion are just a few examples of parties who could be held legally liable for aiding an abortion.

As of right now, abortion is illegal in Texas after six weeks—for the first time since Roe v. Wade. Indeed, this is the first time in 48 years that the unborn have been protected anywhere in America starting at six weeks. This is reason for great hope and reminds us that one day, elective abortion could be illegal in America. The U.S. Supreme Court is still expected to give an answer on this law, so we will stay tuned to how they rule. But for now, lives are being saved in Texas. Abortion appointments scheduled for today are being canceled, and there will be a larger need for the pro-life community in Texas to help even more women who find themselves in unplanned pregnancies.

This is a beautiful and victorious moment in our country. We celebrate the lives saved thanks to the courage and boldness of the Lone Star State.

UPDATE: In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Texas law can remain in effect. Justices Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, Barrett, and Kavanaugh have allowed the Texas law to remain enforceable, while Justices Roberts, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor would have stayed the law. The majority did not rule on the substance of the law but rather sided with what Texas had argued: it’s unclear whether the named defendants can or will seek to enforce the Texas statute. For example, Planned Parenthood named a pro-life advocate as a defendant because they believe he is likely to enforce the statute. The Court rightly rejected this argument. The minority would have blocked the law while litigation took place below. Thankfully, they fell one vote short of a majority.

This means that while litigation continues regarding the Texas heartbeat ban on the merits, Texas will remain essentially abortion-free. A brilliant litigation strategy has led to many abortion appointments being canceled and lives saved. It’s a beautiful opportunity to show the country how valuing and supporting life should become the norm in every state. The unborn in Texas live another day, and that is a historic and beautiful victory.

Cuomo’s Disgrace Should Not Surprise Anyone

by Joy Zavalick

August 31, 2021

The disgraced former governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, was deftly swept out of the forefront of the news last week when his former lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, was sworn in as the state’s 57th governor. With the media busy celebrating the establishment of the state’s first female governor, the troubling administration of the past 10 years has been allowed to fade into the shadows.

However, it is important to recognize the shameful legacy Cuomo leaves behind him. The sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo and his mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic are only the latest indications of a pattern of disregard for the wellbeing of women and the dignity of human life throughout his decade as governor.

For example, a defining moment of Cuomo’s political career occurred in 2019 when he championed the Reproductive Health Act, which codified the default abortion standards of Roe v. Wade in New York. This law provided a route for women to receive late term abortions by removing restrictions on abortions after 24 weeks. This law also effectively allows a woman to access abortion up until the point of birth, so long as she claims her pregnancy poses a risk to her life or health. Because the law failed to clearly define what standards qualified as a threat to the mother’s health, women in New York can use any degree of mental or emotional stress to obtain a late-term abortion.

The law Cuomo signed also repealed the section of the New York public health code that provided protections for infants born alive after a failed abortion attempt. In combination with the expansion of opportunities for women to receive traumatizing late-term abortions, it is clear that the Reproductive Health Act undermines the human dignity of unborn children, abortion survivors, and mothers.

This law is particularly relevant as the nation awaits the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center, which directly challenges Roe v. Wade by considering whether states can create pre-viability restrictions on abortion. Because the Reproductive Health Act codified abortion rights in the state, New Yorkers would maintain access to abortion even if the Court overturned Roe.

To celebrate the ghoulish late-term abortion law’s passage, Cuomo ordered the One World Trade Center to be lit up pink. This revelry in unrestricted access to abortion contradicted what Cuomo claimed to be his personal morality, as he stated, “I have my own Catholic beliefs, how I live my life […] That is my business as a Catholic. I don’t govern as a Catholic.”

Cuomo further demonstrated his lack of respect for human life in 2020 when he placed COVID-positive patients in New York nursing homes, jeopardizing the lives of elderly residents who were already at increased risk of contracting the virus. His team has since attempted to cover up the number of elderly people who died as a result of this careless move. In her first week as governor, Hochul has already released an updated COVID mortality statistic, showing an additional 12,000 deaths that Cuomo kept hidden from the public as recently as last Monday. Cuomo proved that he has no regard for the dignity of the human person from the beginning to the end of life; it is no surprise, then, to discover his harassment of those at the stages in between as well.

Galatians 6:7 (ESV) says, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” Former Governor Cuomo is reaping the consequences for his consistently unethical behavior throughout his tenure in office. The signs have always been there—he has been sowing his disgrace before the eyes of the nation the whole time. When politicians show their true colors in their policy decisions, we ought not to be shocked when their unethical and immoral behavior in private is revealed.

University of Pittsburgh Succumbs to Moral Depravity

by Joy Zavalick

August 17, 2021

The University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) continues to demonstrate the depths of human depravity through their unethical experimentation on human fetal tissue derived from abortions. In a horrifying twist, new reports have emerged showing that the university is extracting organs from viable preborn or born infants for use in its GenitoUrinary Developmental Molecular Anatomy Project (GUDMAP).

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) initially attempted to conceal Pitt’s incriminating grant application. Judicial Watch and the Center for Medical Progress have successfully obtained the documentation, however, following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. Among other things, the application stated the university’s intention of becoming a human fetal tissue “hub.” Judicial Watch reported that the nearly $3 million in federal grants Pitt received funded its collection of human fetal tissue, some of which is obtained around 42 weeks gestation—that’s 20 weeks after infants are viable to survive outside the womb.

Multiple physicians have weighed in on the content of Pitt’s grant application. Pitt’s goal was to minimize “ischemia time,” which it claimed to be “the time after tissue collection procedure and before cooling for storage and transport.” In reality, NIH defines ischemia as a “lack of blood supply to a part of the body.” As the Center for Medical Progress commented, “the fetal organs do not undergo ischemia—lose their blood supply—until ‘after the tissue collection procedure.’ This means the organs are still receiving blood supply from the fetal heartbeat during the “tissue collection.” The consensus among both pro-abortion and pro-life OB-GYNs affirms that the university’s statements on ischemia made it clear that the tissue collection in question was being carried out on either live infants or those aborted via illegal partial-birth procedures.

The University of Pittsburgh also set racial quotas for the fetal tissue they collected—50 percent from white aborted infants and 50 percent from minority aborted infants. Targeting minority communities is a favorite habit of the abortion industry, which places 79 percent of surgical abortion facilities within walking distance of minority neighborhoods.

The recent revelations about the University of Pittsburgh cast a dark cloud on the institution’s once-noble reputation for medical advancement. In the 1940s and 50s, the formation of Jonas Salk’s research team at Pitt led to the development of the polio vaccine, allowing for a world where those who receive the vaccine are 99 to 100 percent protected from the crippling disease.

The university’s descent into depravity hit a notable milestone in the fall of 2020 when researchers published a study in which the scalps of aborted human infants had been grafted onto rodent bodies. Coupled with the disturbing fetal tissue “hub” that Pitt has worked to create through harvesting organs from live infants or illegal partial-birth abortions, it is undeniable that the modern activity of the university dishonors the memory of the ethical scientists of Pitt’s past. The craving for scientific discovery has evidently overcome the consciences of Pitt researchers, leading them to use whatever barbaric means necessary to pursue their goals.

The university has been able to receive taxpayer funding for these unethical research projects because of a lack of federal policies protecting fetal dignity. Pitt’s applications for fetal tissue grants date back to 2015 under President Obama, who repealed President Bush’s ban on embryonic stem cell research and had no prohibitions on aborted fetal tissue research. It was not until the summer of 2019 that President Trump issued a strong executive policy precedent that restricted federal funds from being used to support research on aborted fetal tissue. The policy allowed researchers to use ethically obtained, donated fetal tissue derived from miscarriages and stillbirths. The Biden administration moved to repeal Trump’s policy in April 2021, once again opening the door for taxpayer dollars to fund the horrific projects of Pitt researchers.

It is deeply ironic that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can claim on its “Infant Loss” webpage that “the loss of a baby during pregnancy remains a sad reality for many families” as other federal agencies are funding the killing and organ harvesting of viable babies for scientific research. If legislators are genuinely grieved by the tragic loss of life due to miscarriages and stillbirths, then they ought to be equally grieved by the loss of those aborted for their body parts. It is high time for our elected officials to adhere to a consistent ethic, one that values all human life and holds our scientific community and government agencies accountable.

To take action, sign this open letter to the University of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania state legislature demanding that they stop experimenting with aborted babies.

What Christians Need to Know About the Case that Could Overturn Roe and Casey

by David Closson , Joy Zavalick

July 28, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on the Center for Biblical Worldview page.

Most Americans are familiar with Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. Many Americans, however, have not yet heard of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center, an upcoming Supreme Court case that could overturn Roe and likely return jurisdiction over abortion legislation to the states.

What should Americans, and especially Christians, know about Dobbs? Is it possible that Roe v. Wade could be overturned? These and other questions are important to consider as the Supreme Court prepares to reconsider its abortion jurisprudence.

Context

Since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, there have been an estimated 62 million abortions in the United States. The Roe decision created abortion rights on the basis of a supposed right to privacy provided by the Fourteenth Amendment. Under Roe, the Court initially established a trimester system and prevented states from restricting abortion in the first trimester. An accompanying case, Doe v. Bolton, made it almost impossible to restrict abortion in the later trimesters as well.

In 1992, the Supreme Court revisited Roe in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. It replaced the trimester system with the standard that states cannot impose an “undue burden” on pre-viability abortion. Although infants were once thought to reach viability at 28 weeks, modern medicine has determined that children can survive outside of the womb beginning around 22 weeks, thus moving the point of viability to earlier in gestation than it had been understood to be at the time of Roe.

Mississippi’s Law

In 2018, Mississippi passed the Gestational Age Act (known as HB 1510), which prohibits elective abortions post-15 weeks gestation. The law points out that America is out-of-step with international norms regarding abortion:

The United States is one (1) of only seven (7) nations in the world that permits nontherapeutic or elective abortion-on-demand after the twentieth week of gestation. In fact, fully seventy-five percent (75%) of all nations do not permit abortion after twelve (12) weeks’ gestation, except (in most instances) to save the life and to preserve the physical health of the mother.

On the same day that the Gestational Age Act was signed into law, Dr. Sacheen Carr-Ellis filed suit on behalf of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only abortion facility in Mississippi.

A district court evaluated the Gestational Age Act and declared it to be unconstitutional on the basis that the point of a baby’s viability outside the womb was the earliest point at which the state could implement a legislative ban to protect fetal life. When the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling, Mississippi appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mississippi’s law directly challenges the abortion jurisprudence of Roe and Casey, and its brief in the case calls upon the Court to overturn these two decisions, stating, “…[N]othing in constitutional text, structure, history, or tradition supports a right to abortion.”

If Roe and Casey were overturned, the question of abortion’s legality would likely fall to the states. Twenty-one states currently have laws that would immediately come into effect and restrict abortion in some manner if Roe and Casey were overturned. Ten of those states have “trigger laws” that would immediately ban all or nearly all abortions.

Christian Reflections

The Bible teaches that all people are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). It also affirms the personhood of the unborn. Consequently, abortion is morally incompatible with these truths.

Probably the most well-known articulation of the Bible’s affirmation of the unborn is found in Psalm 139, where David refers to his unborn self as being fully individual, not an impersonal fetus with no moral value:

For you [God] formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Ps. 139:13-16)

The prophet Jeremiah provides a high view of human life in the womb:

Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer. 1:4-5)

Notably, the prophet is “consecrated” and “appointed” to his vocation while in utero. God explains to Jeremiah that He “formed” and “knew” him prior to this birth. The passage reveals that God had a personal relationship with the unborn prophet, similar to how He relates to him as an adult.

Other pro-life passages include Isaiah 49:1b, Luke 1:39-45, Psalm 51:5-6, Job 3:3, Judges 13:3-5, and Genesis 25:22-23.

Christians should care about the Dobbs case because it poses a serious legal challenge to a deadly practice that is incompatible with Christian ethics—abortion. We urge you to follow activity related to the Dobbs case and join us in praying that the U.S. Supreme Court would act to defend life.

For a more in-depth survey of what the Bible has to say about abortion and the personhood of the unborn, we invite you to read FRC’s helpful resource Biblical Principles for Pro-Life Engagement. For more information on what would happen if Roe v. Wade were overturned, we invite you to read our explainer on this consequential case.

Mississippi Boldly Leads the Fight to Overrule Roe

by Katherine Beck Johnson

July 27, 2021

Mississippi’s brief in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health abortion case is the latest example of a recently emboldened pro-life movement. All eyes were on Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch last week, waiting to see how she would defend her state’s 15-week abortion ban. Would Fitch be bold and mention that Roe and Casey should be overturned? Or would she try to convince the Court that the 15-week ban could be upheld under Casey?

Fitch and Scott Stewart, Mississippi’s solicitor general, exceeded all expectations when they boldly and brilliantly led the fight against Roe and Casey. Their brief convincingly explained the damage the Court’s two most deadly decisions have inflicted on our nation and demanded that the Court overturn them. “Nowhere else in the law does a right of privacy or right to make personal decisions provide a right to destroy a human life.” Mississippi’s brief called out Roe for what it is: wrong. No matter how strong of an interest women have in their own privacy, this does not extend to a right to end the life of an innocent child.

The brief’s introduction made it clear that Mississippi would be bold and aggressive in its defense of the unborn. “…[N]othing in constitutional text, structure, history, or tradition supports a right to abortion.” The brief went on to discuss the damage inflicted on our country as a result of the judicial activism of the seven male justices who decided Roe. Mississippi did not shy away from humanizing the child in the womb:

The Court could hold that the State’s interests in protecting unborn life, women’s health, and the medical profession’s integrity are, at a minimum, compelling at 15 weeks’ gestation—when risks to women have increased considerably; when the child’s basic physiological functions are all present, his or her vital organs are functioning, and he or she can open and close fingers, make sucking motions, and sense stimuli from outside the womb; and thus when a doctor would be extinguishing a life that has clearly taken on the human form.

Mississippi reminded the Court that states are willing and should be able to protect the most vulnerable among us. Some pressured Mississippi to take a more timid approach and not ask for much, but Mississippi did the right thing by being bold. No other fight for basic human rights, such as the civil rights movement, was shy in their requests for equal rights. Thurgood Marshall was bold in his requests before the Court in Brown v. Board of Education, and now Mississippi stands boldly before the Court in its request for the state’s ability to protect the most basic right—the right to life—for the unborn. The Court did the right thing in Brown, and it should do the right thing in Dobbs.

The conclusion of the brief summarizes the harm done by judicial activism in creating a right to abortion:

The goal of constitutional adjudication is to hold true the balance between that which the Constitution puts beyond the reach of the democratic process and that which it does not.” Webster, 492 U.S. at 521 (opinion of Rehnquist, C.J.). Roe and Casey—and a viability rule—do not meet that goal. And they never can. Retaining them harms the Constitution, the country, and this Court. This Court should… overrule Roe and Casey.

Mississippi did the right thing. Now it’s the U.S. Supreme Court’s turn to do the right thing. No justice will be able to feign ignorance regarding Mississippi’s glaring request. No justice can claim that Mississippi didn’t ask for Roe to be overturned. It is time for Americans to see the true colors of every justice sitting on the Court. Dobbs is the case that should overturn Roe. If it isn’t overturned, it won’t be because Mississippi didn’t do the best job it could. There is no excuse for Roe not to be overturned now.

Embracing Modern Science Means Overturning Roe

by Joy Zavalick

July 23, 2021

In 1973, the Supreme Court handed down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision allowing for virtually unlimited access to abortion through nine months of pregnancy. The Court justified this decision by sidestepping the matter of whether children in the womb are alive. As Justice White explained in his Roe dissent, “The Court apparently values the convenience of the pregnant mother more than the continued existence and development of the life or potential life that she carries.”

The Roe decision to prioritize mothers seeking elective abortions rests on the outdated scientific opinions available to the Court in 1973. The Court fallaciously appealed to ignorance by permitting abortion based on a lack of knowledge about when life begins. In the opinion of the Court, Justice Blackmun wrote, “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. […] The judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”

There can be no doubt, however, that the human understanding of the world has shifted immeasurably in the past 48 years.

In 1973, the disposable camera was 13 years away from being invented, and the rings of Neptune would not be discovered for another decade. The Walkman would not hit the market until 1979. Doctors still operated on infants without anesthesia because they were not yet aware that babies could feel pain.

In terms of science and technological advancements, the practices of 1973 ought not govern the modern world. As lessons are learned and further information is gained, it is senseless to maintain outdated practices. When DNA fingerprinting was discovered in 1984, forensic teams did not insist on maintaining their current practices for the next 50 years; rather, the technology solved its first murder case two years later.

In 2021, the science is clearer than ever that infants in the womb are alive from the point of conception. A modern understanding of DNA reveals that human zygotes have completely unique genetic compositions, determining traits from eye color to aspects of personality, from the very point that they are fertilized. A 2019 study emphasizes that light is visible to children in the womb even as their eyes are closed.

The contemporary practices of prenatal health care have greatly adapted as well. Though the point of viability was thought to be at 28 weeks in 1973, it is now known to be at 22 weeks. The most premature infant to survive was born in 1987 at just 21 weeks gestation. Fetal surgery performed on children in the womb has successfully treated a host of developmental conditions, including spina bifida. Based on the Roe decision, which refused to consider whether infants in the womb were alive, children of the same age to be born or receive operations can just as easily be electively aborted at the mother’s discretion.

The case for reevaluating the substance of Roe is clear. Just as textbooks are updated when new facts become available to ensure that children learn the most recent information, the modern Court’s rulings must be based on current knowledge rather than the claim to ignorance of the Court in 1973. Legal precedent must not triumph over the necessity to acknowledge modern science.

As the Supreme Court will soon consider a direct challenge to Roe in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, they face a pivotal decision: abide by the outdated excuses of 1973, or recognize the evidence presented by modern science and act accordingly. Americans, particularly the unborn ones, deserve to live by the best modern practices of human knowledge, which unequivocally affirms that babies in the womb are alive.

For more information on why Roe should be overturned, see FRC’s issue analysis.

Joy Zavalick is an intern with the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

State Round-Up: Chemical Abortion Bans

by Chantel Hoyt

July 19, 2021

Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series about key provisions that states have advanced in 2021 to defend the family and human dignity.

While many states have enacted pro-life laws in recent years, the abortion industry has been searching for ways to circumvent such laws. The best way to do this, it has determined, is through risky, do-it-yourself chemical abortions, which leave mothers to endure the trauma of abortion alone in their bathrooms, with no support or medical follow-up.

Twenty years ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved mifepristone (Mifeprex®; also known as RU-486 or simply “the abortion pill”) to chemically induce abortions. Since then, the abortion industry has latched on to the abortion pill as a lower-cost alternative to surgical abortions—and one that can be carried out virtually anywhere. As a result, abortion pill usage has surged even as the overall number of abortions in the United States is in decline. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the use of early “medical abortions” (a euphemistic term for chemical abortions) increased 114 percent from 2006 to 2015. And according to statistics provided by the Guttmacher Institute, 39 percent of abortions in 2017 were chemical, a 25 percent increase since 2014.

Chemical abortion is praised by pro-abortion activists for expanding abortion availability, particularly for women who don’t live near an abortion business since they push mothers to self-administer the drugs at home. These activists choose to overlook chemical abortion’s higher rate of risk compared to surgical abortion and push for the removal of the FDA’s safety standards, arguing they are unnecessary and unduly limit “abortion access.” The abortion industry seems willing to gamble with women’s lives and health.

The good news is that many states are not. Since 2011, 74 bills to ban or place regulations on chemical abortion have been introduced in 29 states. Of these bills, 21 have been enacted in 14 states. These bills vary in approach. Some seek to ban chemical abortion outright, while others seek to regulate chemical abortions in an effort to mitigate its health-damaging and life-threatening risks to mothers. Bills typically include some combination of the following key provisions:

  • Require that the pre-abortion exam be performed, and the abortion pills be administered, in-person by a licensed physician. (These laws are often referred to as “Skype abortion” bans, since without them abortionists can abuse telehealth to dispense chemical abortion drugs without ever physically examining the mother.)
  • Require that physicians meet certain certification and qualification standards, including:
    • Being certified by an “Abortion Inducing Drug Certification Program” at the state board of pharmacy.
    • Being capable of performing an in-person exam to confirm the pregnancy, the absence of an ectopic pregnancy and determine the gestational age and intrauterine location of the unborn child, as well as document said information in the patient’s medical chart.
  • Require follow-up appointments (minimum of two).
  • Require patients to be informed of the “final printed label” (FPL) of each drug.
  • Require informed consent for mothers.
  • Require reporting of Adverse Event Complications and reporting to the state board of pharmacy.
  • Provide a penalty for noncompliance (criminal, civil, and/or professional).
  • Create a civil cause of action (i.e., abortion providers who violate the law can be sued).

In 2021 so far, a record-high 22 bills have been introduced and seven enacted in six states. Here is a rundown of the seven bills enacted so far this year:

  • Alabama HB 377 banned chemical abortions completely and imposed a criminal penalty for noncompliance. Specifically, it prohibits any person or entity from manufacturing, distributing, prescribing, dispensing, selling, or transferring the abortion pill or any substantially similar generic or non-generic abortifacient drug in the state. This is the strongest measure to be enacted this year.
  • Oklahoma SB 778 also requires the person administering the abortifacient drug to be a licensed physician, establishes informed consent and reporting requirements (i.e., number of chemical abortions), codifies criminal, professional, and civil penalties for noncompliance, and creates a civil cause of action for the mother, father, and maternal grandparents of the unborn child if these rules are not adhered to. This bill also prohibits the distribution of abortifacient drugs in schools or on other state grounds.
  • Oklahoma SB 779 additionally requires the person administering the abortifacient drug to be a licensed physician but adds that this physician must have admitting privileges at a local hospital. This bill also establishes the Oklahoma Abortion-Inducing Drug Certification Program, which requires manufacturers, distributors, and physicians to be certified to manufacture, distribute, or provide abortifacient drugs, and establishes requirements for certification. This bill also requires the physician to schedule a follow-up appointment, establishes informed consent requirements, creates a reporting system, establishes criminal penalties for noncompliance, and creates a civil cause of action for the mother of the unborn child. This bill, together with SB 778, puts strong regulations in place, ensuring proper safety precautions are taken and enforced.
  • Montana HB 171 requires that abortifacients be administered in-person by a “qualified medical practitioner” and prohibits the drug from being provided through a courier, delivery, or mail service, which targets the “mail-order abortion” model that the abortion industry is moving toward. It also requires the physician to perform an in-person exam of the mother prior to administering the drug to verify that a pregnancy exists, determine the mother’s blood type (since being Rh negative could cause complications), and establish the gestational age and intrauterine location of the unborn child. This bill also provides informed consent requirements, reporting requirements, civil and criminal penalties for noncompliance, a civil cause of action, and requires the physician to schedule a follow-up appointment. In addition, the bill also prohibits anyone from providing an abortifacient drug at a school or on school grounds.
  • Arkansas HB 1402 requires persons administering abortifacients to be licensed physicians, credentialed to manage abortion complications, or have an agreement with an associated physician who is credentialed to handle abortion complications. The bill also requires the physician to perform an in-person exam of the mother prior to administering the abortion pill in order to verify that an intrauterine pregnancy exists, determine the mother’s blood type, and establish the gestational age of the child. This bill additionally requires the physician to schedule a follow-up appointment (making all reasonable efforts to ensure that the mother returns) and prohibits the distribution of abortifacient drugs via a courier, delivery, or mail service. It did not establish any new penalties.
  • Ohio SB 260 requires physicians to be physically present when abortifacients are administered and requires the physician to perform an in-person exam prior to administering the drug. It also mandates a 24-hour waiting period before the administration of abortifacients and imposes criminal penalties for noncompliance.
  • Arizona SB 1457 places leaner regulations on chemical abortion. It requires that abortifacient drugs only be provided by a qualified physician (elsewhere defined in law) and prohibits a manufacturer, supplier, physician, or any other person from providing an abortifacient drug via a courier, delivery, or mail service. This bill doesn’t establish regulations as robust as the others, above. However, to the bill’s credit, it establishes strong abortion regulations in other areas not related to chemical abortion, such as prohibiting an abortion solely based on a diagnosis of a genetic abnormality of the unborn child.

No other year has seen so many bills to regulate or ban chemical abortion introduced, let alone enacted. State legislators are seeing the lack of restraint and regulation of chemical abortions and taking action to establish necessary safeguards. All Americans should agree that the abortion industry should not be allowed to operate at the expense of the health and safety of mothers. States are sending a clear message that they will not stand idly by and allow abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood to profit from the cheaper but riskier abortion pill regimen. Given the dramatic increase of chemical abortions over the past few years, more states are sure to respond with their own legislative efforts to reign in this growing sector of the abortion industry.

For more information on chemical abortions and why safety restrictions are necessary for the sake of women’s health, please refer to FRC’s issue analysis.

State Round-Up: Protecting Unborn Children from Discriminatory Abortions

by Chantel Hoyt

July 15, 2021

Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series about key provisions that states have advanced in 2021 to defend the family and human dignity.

Modern medical technology can detect genetic characteristics and diagnose many disabilities in the womb. Unfortunately, these scientific advancements have increased the potential for abortions that are motivated by bias against an unborn child’s race, sex, ethnicity, national origin, and/or disability.

Babies who are prenatally diagnosed with a disability may be the most common victims of discriminatory abortions. An international study found that 63 percent of babies prenatally diagnosed with spina bifida and 83 percent of babies prenatally diagnosed with anencephaly are aborted. Another study revealed that an estimated 67 percent of women in the United States who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose abortion. In Denmark, more than 95 percent of mothers who receive a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis choose to abort their child, and in 2019, 15 years after screening became universally available, only 18 babies with Down syndrome were born in the whole country.

State legislators across the country are becoming increasingly aware of this problem and are introducing prenatal nondiscrimination acts (PRENDAs) to protect children from discriminatory abortions. In 2019, they were emboldened when Justice Thomas penned a lengthy opinion in Box v. Planned Parenthood in which he cited abortion’s eugenic roots and its continued eugenic potential.

Much like other pro-life bills, support for PRENDAs has been growing over the past few years. From 2013 to 2020, an average of 10 state-level PRENDAs were introduced each year. In 2021, a record-high 31 were introduced. So far, two have been enacted, in Arizona (SB 1457) and South Dakota (HB 1110). Fourteen other states have enacted some version of these protections. In fact, the past three years have seen more PRENDAs enacted (seven) than in all the preceding years combined.

These bills typically have four key provisions:

  • Prohibit anyone from knowingly aborting the unborn child of a woman who sought the abortion solely on the basis of an inherent characteristic (e.g., sex, race, ethnicity, national origin) or disability of the child.
  • Provide a penalty for noncompliance (criminal, civil, and/or professional).
  • Indemnify the mother (i.e., absolve the mother of legal liability).
  • Create a civil cause of action (i.e., abortion businesses who violate the law can be sued).

In addition, some bills may mandate information be provided to the mother about perinatal palliative care if the unborn child has a life-threatening illness or abnormality. This year, four out of the 31 bills introduced do this (all four are from Texas).

Of the PRENDAs introduced this year, 16 protect unborn children from abortion on the basis of sex, 11 on the basis of race, 22 on the basis of a disability or genetic abnormality diagnosis, six on the basis of ethnicity, and one on the basis of national origin.

So far, Arizona’s SB 1457 and South Dakota’s HB 1110 have been enacted this year. Arizona’s law builds on existing PRENDA law, adding “genetic abnormality” to the list of characteristics protected against discriminatory abortions (in addition to sex and race). This bill weakens the penalty from a class three felony to a class six felony. Existing law in Arizona indemnifies the mother and creates a civil cause of action. South Dakota’s bill is strong, prohibiting abortions sought on the basis of a Down syndrome diagnosis and imposing the criminal penalty of a class six felony for noncompliance. Additionally, this bill indemnifies the mother and creates a civil cause of action.

Texas introduced four strong PRENDAs (HB 3218, SB 1647, HB 3760, SB 1173) that include each of the key provisions listed above as well as provisions for mothers to learn more about perinatal palliative care. Seven statesPennsylvania (HB 1500), Massachusetts (H 2409), Michigan (HB 4737), Texas (HB 4339), South Dakota (HB 1110), Washington (SB 5416), and Arkansas (SB 468)also introduced strong bills that include each key provision. Each of these bills prohibits abortions sought because of one or more of the following characteristics of the unborn child: diagnosis or potential diagnosis of Down syndrome, diagnosis of a disability, genetic abnormality, race, ethnicity, or sex.

Four states—Florida (CS/HB 1221, SB 1664), Texas (HB 1432), South Carolina (HB 3512), and Washington (HB 1008)—introduced moderate bills, missing one or two of the key provisions (a civil cause of action and/or indemnification of the mother). Florida, Washington, and South Carolina’s bills prohibit abortions based on a diagnosis of a disability or genetic abnormality of the unborn child (Washington’s is specific to Down syndrome). Texas’ bill prohibits abortions based on the ethnicity or national origin of the unborn child, and South Carolina’s bill additionally prohibits race and sex-selective abortions.

Seven states—North Carolina, Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland, West Virginia, and Oregon—introduced relatively weak or limited PRENDAs missing more than two of the key provisions. Some of these bills included other limitations that made them especially weak. North Carolina’s bill (H 453) adds to an existing ban on sex-selective abortions by also prohibiting abortions on the basis of the unborn child’s race or Down syndrome. This bill contains no other provisions. Arizona’s bill (SB 1381) adds to existing PRENDA statutes by adding “disability” as a protected trait for which a child may not be aborted. This bill is weakened by the fact that “disability” is not defined. Arkansas’ bill (SB 519) amends a section of law prohibiting sex-selective abortions and requires the physician carrying out the abortion to attempt to obtain the woman’s medical records to determine if she has previously undergone an abortion due to the child’s sex. This bill does not contain any other provisions. However, to Arkansas’ credit, the state already does prohibit sex-selective abortions. Illinois’ bills (HB 3047, HB 1893, HB 3043, HB 3053, and HB 3046) prohibit abortions sought solely based on the sex of the unborn child. Besides containing no other PRENDA provisions, these bills include a weakening statement that allows abortions sought because of a genetic disorder linked to the child’s sex. This goes against the purpose of PRENDA laws, to protect unborn children from being aborted due to an immutable trait. Maryland and West Virginia’s bills (MD HB 846 and WV HB 3024) prohibit abortions based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome but include no other provisions. Oregon’s bill (SB 654) prohibits sex-selective abortions but limits this protection to the third trimester. This too goes against the purpose of PRENDA laws since the sex of babies can be determined as early as 14 weeks. In effect, this would prohibit few, if any, discriminatory abortions.

Discriminatory abortions are a grim reality in the United States and around the world, but they are not going unchallenged. Thus far, state legislators have introduced PRENDAs in over 35 states and successfully enacted them in 16. If the surge of state-level PRENDA bills in 2021 is any indication, these numbers are sure to rise in the coming years. There is cause for optimism that states’ laws will one day reflect American’s rightful opposition to discriminatory abortions, and eventually to the eugenic roots of abortion itself.

For more information on why PRENDAs are essential, please refer to FRC’s issue analysis.

State Round-Up: Protecting Fetal Dignity

by Nicolas Reynolds

July 2, 2021

Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series about key provisions that states have advanced in 2021 to defend the family and human dignity.

The abortion industry rakes in vast amounts of cash every year by carrying out abortions. This has always been their “M.O.” Their exploitation of fetal remains, on the other hand, is a lesser known practice that the general public has only become aware of within the past decade. Though controversy surrounding fetal tissue and abortion has existed for years, in 2015, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released undercover videos that revealed how Planned Parenthood is profiting from harvesting and selling baby body parts. The conscience of the nation was shocked, and ever since, states have taken the initiative to end this abhorrent practice.

Harvesting and selling the body parts of aborted children for research purposes subsidizes the abortion industry. Furthermore, it incentivizes harmful practices such as late-term abortion, altering abortion methods for the sake of preserving the remains for sale, violating patient privacy, and possibly even killing some children born alive in order to harvest their organs.

To ensure fetal remains are given the respect they deserve and can no longer be wielded for profit, lawmakers have propagated protections for fetal remains, which include:

  1. requiring abortion suppliers to bury or cremate unborn children after an abortion,
  2. prohibiting the sale of (or, in some cases, prohibiting the profiting from) baby body parts, and
  3. prohibiting the transfer of fetal remains.

In addition, some states pass stand-alone bills that recognize fetal dignity in one of two other ways:

  1. providing death certificates for miscarried babies, or
  2. providing income tax credit to parents for miscarried babies.

Although fetal dignity laws vary in their particulars, they all have the effect of promoting the dignity of the unborn.

Between 2015 and 2016, in the wake of the CMP videos’ release, the number of states that introduced fetal dignity laws rose by 500 percent (5 to 26 states). Since that time, a total of 48 states have introduced fetal dignity laws. A record-high seven states have already enacted such laws to date in 2021.

Of the over 240 fetal dignity bills that have been introduced since 2015, Alabama’s Unborn Infants Dignity of Life Act (HB 45, 2016) stands out as one of the strongest. It contained four of the first six provisions listed above (the last two provisions have generally been run as standalone bills). In requiring the proper disposal of fetal remains, as well as prohibiting the sale, transfer, or use of fetal remains for research, Alabama HB 45 put commonsense regulations in place to bar the exploiting of fetal remains.

In addition to Alabama, seven states have enacted strong legislation:

  • Arizona (SB 1474, 2016)
  • Idaho (S 1196, 2017)
  • Indiana (HB 1337, 2016)
  • Louisiana (SB 128, 2017)
  • Michigan (SB 564/565, 2016)
  • South Dakota (SB 24, 2016)
  • Wyoming (HB 116, 2017)

Like Alabama’s bill, these seven prohibit the sale, transfer, or the use of fetal remains for research. They do not, however, mandate the proper disposal of fetal remains—the burial or cremation of fetal remains, a strengthening protection ensuring fetal remains are not discarded as mere medical waste. However, four of these seven states have enacted additional bills mandating the proper disposal of fetal remains:

  • Arizona (HB 1457, 2021)
  • Idaho (SB 1404, 2016)
  • Indiana (SB 299, 2020)
  • Louisiana (HB 618, 2020)

Four other states—Florida, Iowa, Tennessee, and Texas—have enacted legislation that only prohibits the sale and transfer of fetal tissue. However, Iowa’s (SF 359, 2018) only addresses the transfer of fetal tissue, whereas Tennessee’s (HB 2577, 2016) only addresses the sale of fetal tissue, while additionally mandating the proper disposal of fetal remains. Florida (HB 1411, 2016) and Texas (SB 8, 217) enacted legislation that prohibits both the sale and transfer of fetal tissue, although failing to address the final disposition of fetal remains. Three additional states have all passed measures solely mandating the proper disposal of fetal remains:

  • Ohio (SB 27, 2021)
  • Oklahoma (SB284, 2019)
  • Utah (SB 67, 2020)

Another six states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that take a different approach, ensuring that parents can receive death certificates in the tragic event of a miscarriage or stillbirth:

  • California (AB 114, 2019)
  • Delaware (SB 3, 2017)
  • Florida (HB 101, 2017)
  • Louisiana (HB 177, 2019)
  • Nebraska (LB 1040, 2018)
  • Tennessee (SB 1389, 2019)
  • District of Columbia (B23-0529, 2020)

Interestingly enough, these unique pieces of legislation have consistently received bipartisan support, unifying both sides of the aisle. Similarly, five other states have enacted bills providing income tax credit to parents who have experienced the miscarriage or stillbirth of a child:

  • Arkansas (HB 1457, 2021)
  • Louisiana (HB 146, 2021)
  • Michigan (HB 4522, 2018)
  • Missouri (HB 2540, 2018)
  • North Dakota (HB 1239, 2017)

Granting death certificates and/or tax benefits for miscarried children reenforces the principle that children in the womb possess the same human dignity and deserve the same level of respect as those outside the womb.

Although fetal dignity laws vary in their particulars, they all promote the dignity of the unborn. Following the release of undercover videos in 2015, the growing realization that stronger protections are necessary has motivated some lawmakers to make a difference, contributing to the enactment of 38 bills spanning 21 states and the District of Columbia. These laws move us one step closer toward honoring the unborn, who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. With over 240 bills introduced since 2015, a record number of enactments this year, and some bills seeing bipartisan support, the fight for fetal dignity has never been stronger.

State Round-Up: Total Abortion Bans

by Nicolas Reynolds , Alexander Ioannidis

July 1, 2021

Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series about key provisions that states have advanced in 2021 to defend the family and human dignity.

Since 1973, pro-life Americans have prioritized overturning Roe v. Wade and its companion Doe v. Bolton, two U.S. Supreme Court decisions that made abortion on-demand legal in all 50 states. The ruling in Roe, which in the words of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “entirely removed the ball from the legislator’s court,” prevented countless pieces of state-level pro-life legislation from coming into effect. But that has not stopped pro-life state legislators from passing pro-life legislation.

In 1992, an effort from the Pennsylvania State Legislature to challenge the Roe decision led to Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Sadly, the Court once again usurped the power of state legislatures to regulate abortion, but pro-life state legislators have remained motivated to change this.

Since 2018, 19 states around the country have seized the opportunity to introduce legislation that bans nearly all abortions and directly challenges Roe and Casey.

In 2019 and 2021, Alabama and Arkansas successfully passed legislation banning almost all abortions (Alabama H.B. 314, 2019; Arkansas S.B. 6, 2021). These pro-life bills recognize that all persons—not just persons outside the womb—have the right to life. They define life as beginning at the moment of conception and call upon the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Although both of these bills have been blocked in lower courts and are pending litigation, their passage signaled to the Supreme Court that states are demanding the power to make their own laws regarding abortion.

In addition to Alabama and Arkansas, three other states—Colorado, Iowa, and Mississippi—have introduced similar abortion bans. Colorado’s ban, HB21-1017 (2021), is nearly identical to those of Alabama and Arkansas, but instead of asking the Supreme Court to overturn Roe, it asserts the 10th Amendment to nullify any federal laws that would keep Colorado from protecting preborn children within the state. Also introduced this year, Iowa H.F. 267 (2021) seeks to establish that life begins at conception. Similarly, in Mississippi, H.B. 338 (2021) looks to ban abortion at all stages.

Oklahoma enacted H.B. 1102, a bill making it unprofessional conduct to carry out an abortion. This bill will cause physicians who carry out or induce abortions to lose their medical licenses for at least one year. Although not as strong as Arkansas and Alabama’s bans, this bill is notable because it is the only total abortion ban that has passed outside of Alabama and Arkansas.

Five other states—Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin—have taken another approach. They have attempted to amend their state constitutions. These amendments would guarantee equal rights to preborn humans. In North Carolina, the Republican-controlled state legislature introduced H.B. 158 (2021), a constitutional amendment that seeks to outlaw abortion within the state. In Kansas, after the state supreme court wrongly interpreted their constitution to grant a right to abortion, lawmakers introduced S.C.R. 1604 (2019), which similarly granted preborn citizens of Kansas the same rights as those outside the womb. In 2020, West Virginia introduced H.J.R. 4, which sought to define the word “person” in the state constitution to include anyone from the point of fertilization or in cases of cloning. That same year, Missouri introduced H.J.R. 28, which sought to change the definition of “person” in the Missouri Constitution to include preborn humans. Wisconsin introduced S.J.R. 86 (2020) and A.J.R. 130 (2020), which sought to remove the word “born” from the state constitution to signify when human rights begin.

Furthermore, 10 states—Alaska (H.B. 206, 2021), Arizona (H.B. 2650, 2021), Idaho (H. 56, 2021), Indiana (H.B. 1539, 2021), Maryland (H.B. 0997, 2021), Missouri (H.B. 2285, 2020), Oklahoma (S.B. 495, 2021), South Carolina (H.B. 4046, 2021), Texas (H.B. 3326, 2021), and Washington (H.B. 2154, 2019)—have introduced bills totally abolishing abortion. These bills assert state sovereignty to abolish and criminalize abortion within the state. They ban abortion from the moment of conception without exception and classify abortion as homicide in the state criminal code, thus treating preborn children the same as born children. These bills also order the state executive branch to nullify any federal mandate or court opinion that orders the state to allow abortion. However, it should be noted that these bills do not accomplish the goal of challenging Roe in the courts.

Pro-life activists should be encouraged that, since 2018, nearly 20 states have taken action to attempt to ban most or substantially all elective abortions. Arkansas and Alabama, in particular, are examples for the rest of the country. State efforts to ban abortion must continue. The Supreme Court’s decision to review Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health is proof that state legislators’ efforts have not gone unnoticed. Let us pray for a day when state legislators’ efforts are rewarded and the laws of all 50 states protect and defend the right to life of the unborn child in the womb.

Nicolas Reynolds is Legislative Assistant for State and Local Affairs in FRC’s Policy & Government Affairs Department.

Alexander Ioannidis is an intern in State and Local Affairs with FRC’s Policy & Government Affairs Department.

Archives