Category archives: State roundup

State Round-Up: Protecting Abortion Survivors

by Chantel Hoyt

June 23, 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.

Protecting the lives of born children is basic human decency. Therefore, you’d expect that providing care for babies born alive following an attempted abortion would be a no-brainer. However, as common sense is becoming less common in D.C.(where House Democrats blocked 80 unanimous consent requests to bring even this modest level of protection to the House floor in 2019), state legislators have taken it upon themselves to codify common sense laws. Since 2019, support for state-level Born-Alive Protection Acts has skyrocketed. From 2015-2018, an average of five bills were introduced every year. This jumped to 28 in 2019, 33 in 2020, and 37 in 2021. Over a six-year period, the number of Born-Alive bills introduced in a single year rose by 700 percent. This year has already set the record for enacted bills with five (in Alabama, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Kentucky).

These state laws are the result of a growing awareness of abortion’s inhumanity. In 2015, the Center for Medical Progress began releasing undercover videos of abortionists and Planned Parenthood directors speaking matter-of-factly about the horrific acts that qualify as business as usual at their facilities. The infamous case of Philadelphia abortionist and convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell in 2013, as well as more recent reports from the CDC, prove infants are sometimes born alive as a result of failed abortions. These reports are most certainly underestimated, as only eight states report the number of infants born alive after attempted abortions. Currently, only 18 states have strong born-alive protections for infants who survive abortions.

Born-Alive Infant Protection Acts provide necessary protections for abortion survivors. The particulars of these bills vary, but the strongest versions include five key provisions:

  1. Practitioners must exercise professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life of infants who survive abortion;
  2. Infants who survive abortions have the same right to medical care as any other infant born alive;
  3. Hospitalization for the surviving infant and/or the presence of a second physician during the abortion;
  4. A penalty for noncompliance (criminal, civil, and/or professional); and
  5. A reporting requirement.

Family Research Council has created four interactive pro-life maps that rank each state based on its current pro-life laws. FRC’s born-alive map ranks states on a five-tiered scale—ranging from “Removed Protection” (i.e., the state previously had born-alive protections but repealed them) to “Best Protection”—based on how many of the above key provisions the state has in statute.

This year, 34 born-alive bills were introduced in state legislatures across 18 states.

  • Two of these bills, Ohio SB 157 and South Dakota HB 1051, would fill in gaps in existing statute, giving these states the best level of born-alive protections. Ohio’s bill would add reporting requirements to current statute, while South Dakota’s bill would add four key provisions that have been lacking (a “skill, care, and diligence” requirement, civil and professional penalties, hospitalization requirement, and reporting requirements).

19 bills introduced in eight states (North Carolina, Hawaii, Oregon, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Illinois, and New York) would bring their states up to “Strong Protection” on FRC’s map. Illinois’ bills would only apply these protections to “viable” infants. FRC supports bills that apply born-alive protections to infants regardless of gestational age. The “viable” qualifier makes the Illinois bills weaker, although they still contain enough protections to move Illinois up to “Strong” status.

Three bills introduced in three states (Illinois, Wyoming, and New York) this year would give their states “Weak Protections.”

  • New York’s bill (A 7437) is very weak, only applying its protections to infants up to 20 weeks gestation. However, the bill would still bring New York to a higher level of protection than it currently has (New York currently ranks as “Removed Protections”).
  • Likewise, Wyoming’s bill (SF 34) only applies its protections to “viable” infants but still provides these infants with more protections than before (Wyoming had “No Protections” before this bill).

Four born-alive bills have been enacted this year in four different states.

  • The most dramatic of these bills is South Dakota HB 1051 (mentioned previously), which included each of the key provisions that the state was previously missing (a “skill, care, and diligence” requirement, a health care requirement, civil and professional penalties, and a reporting requirement), bringing the state up from “Weak Protections” to the best possible born-alive protections.
  • Kentucky SB 9 included four out of five key provisions (a “skill, care, and diligence” requirement; a health care requirement; criminal, civil, and professional penalties; and a statement declaring the infant’s right to medical care), moving the state from “No Protections” to “Strong Protections.”
  • Montana HB 167 included three out of five key provisions (a “skill, care, and diligence” requirement, criminal penalties, and a statement declaring the infant’s right to medical care), which would move the state from “Weak Protection” to “Strong Protection” (the state already has criminal penalties for knowingly or negligently causing the death of a premature infant born alive). This bill creates a referendum, so voters will decide if it goes into effect in the state’s November 2022 election.
  • Lastly, Wyoming SF 34 (mentioned previously) was the weakest bill enacted this year. It included the “skill, care, and diligence” requirement but no other provisions. In addition, this bill only applied this protection to “viable” infants, moving the state from “No Protection” to “Weak Protection.”

From 2019 to 2020, 55 bills were introduced in 15 states. Of these, four were enacted: in West Virginia (HB 4007 in 2020), Texas (HB 16 in 2019), and Arkansas (SB 278 and SB 3 in 2019).

  • West Virginia’s bill moved the state from “No Protection” to “Strong Protection,” as it added every key provision to state law except for reporting requirements.
  • Texas’ bill moved the state from “Weak Protection” to “Best Protection,” building on a prior statement that had declared infants’ right to medical care and added reporting requirements to state law.
  • Arkansas’ bills established reporting requirements for infants who survive abortions, moving the state from “Strong Protection” to “Best Protection” (a 2017 bill established other born-alive protections).

Born-Alive Infant Protection Acts are an appropriate and urgent response to a harsh reality: babies born alive following failed abortions do not enjoy the full legal protections they are due apart from such laws and are frequently left to die. Abortion survivors deserve the same level of care as any other infant. This should be non-controversial. If the last three years are any indication, states are sure to continue introducing and enacting strong protections for born children in the coming years, perhaps one day making such protections the norm, rather than the exception.

State Round-Up: Defunding the Abortion Industry

by Chantel Hoyt

June 9, 2021

Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series about key provisions that states have advanced in 2021.

States have been working for years to protect taxpayers from having to subsidize the abortion industry, and the momentum continues this year.

As I’ve written elsewhere,

Ever since Roe v. Wade, Congress and most states have taken bipartisan efforts to stop taxpayer funds from going to pay for abortions and, later, to flow to the abortion industry. These efforts greatly intensified in 2015 when the release of several undercover videos by the Center for Medical Progress showed Planned Parenthood officials laughing and joking about the transfer and sale of fetal tissue. These videos shocked the American people and shined a light on an unsavory profit center for the abortion industry, the gruesome harvesting of body parts of the aborted unborn (sometimes even, apparently, before fetal death).

Most Americans support defunding Planned Parenthood. An annual Knights of Columbus/Marist poll shows a majority of Americans oppose the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortion; in January it found that 60 percent of Americans, including 35 percent of Democrats, oppose public funding of abortions. A 2016 Harvard poll and a 2018 PRRI poll found that over half (58 percent and 51 percent, respectively) of Americans believe that Medicaid should not pay for abortions. Not surprisingly, 33 states have introduced legislation to restrict government funding of the abortion industry in recent years.  These bills largely address the three main streams of abortion funding – Medicaid (a joint federal-state health coverage program), Title X (a federal family planning grant program) and state appropriations.

Abortion funding restrictions have shifted from merely banning direct funding of abortion procedures to also cutting off abortion businesses. This distinction is important because even if taxpayer funds are not used for performing an abortion, they still support abortion centers by helping them offset their other costs. This frees up their budget to pay for abortions and other abortion-related expenses. After watching the undercover videos, federal and state policymakers realized it is time to defund abortion businesses.

Since 2015, states have consistently introduced bills that have attempted to defund both abortions and abortion centers. At least 131 bills have been introduced in 33 states in the past 6 years. Of these, 26 bills sought to defund Planned Parenthood in Medicaid, 43 bills in Title X, and 90 bills in state appropriations (About twelve of these 131 bills were specific in only prohibiting the funding of abortion procedures.  Thirteen of these bills sought to simply expand or strengthen existing defund laws. 22 of the 131 bills were temporary budget bills, in which states inserted a ‘rider’ restricting abortion funding into their yearly appropriations bill going into effect for the upcoming fiscal year.) 29 of the total 131 bills have been enacted in 19 different states. 

In addition to addressing the three streams of funding mentioned above, some states have gotten creative. For example, Iowa’s HF 422 (2015), rather than prohibiting funds from going to entities that supply abortions, sought to prohibit abortions from being done by entities that receive public funds (this bill was not enacted). A few states have sought to limit health insurance coverage of abortions.  Kentucky’s HB 484 (2020), for example, prohibited abortions from being covered under state-sponsored health insurance programs (this bill was enacted). In 2017, Wisconsin introduced a bill (SB 154) that would have prohibited publicly-funded universities from utilizing state funds to perform, assist, or train others to perform abortions.

Texas currently has the strongest defunding laws in place, as the state successfully defunded abortion businesses in Title X and state appropriations. First, Governor Greg Abbott issued a letter defunding Planned Parenthood from the state Medicaid program in 2015. While this action was enjoined, Texas was subsequently granted a Medicaid waiver allowing the state to redirect federal funds away from abortion businesses. This was the first (and so far, only) waiver of its kind to be granted.  Six other states – Arizona, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Florida, and Indiana – have similarly enacted very strong legislation defunding the abortion industry, as they have attempted to defund abortion businesses in Medicaid and successfully defunded abortion businesses in Title X and state appropriations. However, none received a federal waiver for Medicaid; this is typically a multi-year process, which seems unlikely under the current administration, so pro-life state policymakers should begin thinking now about the waiver requests they’ll want the next time we get a pro-life administration.

In a like manner, a plethora of states have attempted to permanently defund abortion businesses in one or two streams of funding. While a state attempting to defund abortion businesses in a particular area doesn’t carry as much weight as a successful defund, it is still notable and shows the public’s support for defunding the abortion industry in that state. The following 15 states fall into this category:

  • Alabama, Utah, South Carolina – Attempted to defund abortion businesses in Medicaid
  • Kansas, Tennessee – Attempted to defund abortion businesses in Medicaid; deprioritized abortion businesses in Title X (i.e. when distributing federal grants, the state prefers non-abortion health care providers ahead of any entities that supply abortions)
  • Missouri, Idaho – Attempted to defund abortion businesses in Medicaid; defunded abortion businesses in state appropriations
  • Wisconsin, Kentucky, Ohio – Defunded abortion businesses in state appropriations; defunded or deprioritized abortion businesses in Title X
  • Michigan, Oklahoma – Defunded or deprioritized abortion businesses in Title X
  • Nebraska, Iowa, North Carolina – Defunded abortion businesses in state appropriations

Though lacking the strength of abortion industry funding bans, other states have taken action to defund abortion procedures. The 13 states that have done this are:

  • Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota – Defunded procedures in Medicaid and state appropriations
  • Nevada, North Dakota, Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Rhode Island – Defunded procedures in Medicaid
  • Pennsylvania – Defunded procedures in Medicaid; attempted to defund procedures in state appropriations
  • Minnesota – Attempted to defund procedures in Medicaid and state appropriations
  • Montana – Attempted to defund procedures in Medicaid

Lastly, several states have been successful in temporarily defunding abortions and/or the abortion industry. These states have passed yearly appropriations bills that include a pro-life ‘rider’ specifying that certain funds shall not be used for abortions and/or abortion businesses for the duration of the upcoming fiscal year. The following six states have done this:

  • Iowa – Temporarily defunded procedures in Medicaid and abortion businesses in state appropriations and Title X (2019-2020); temporarily defunded procedures in Medicaid (2015-2016)
  • Nebraska – Temporarily defunded abortion businesses in Title X (2018-2019)
  • New Hampshire – Temporarily defunds abortion businesses in state appropriations (since at least 2019)
  • Missouri – Temporarily defunds abortion businesses in state appropriations (since at least 2018)
  • Pennsylvania – Temporarily defunded abortion businesses in state appropriations (2018-2019)
  • Michigan – Temporarily defunded abortion businesses in state appropriations (2017-2018)

As I wrote,

It is clear the majority of states want to prevent taxpayer funds from going to the abortion industry. These efforts have become normative since the release of the undercover Planned Parenthood videos in 2015. This effort has not slowed, with 19 bills being introduced this year in 14 different states; four having been enacted to date.

States believe that taxpayers should not fund the abortion industry, and states will continue passing laws that reflect the principle that abortion is not health care. After all, no other type of health care has as its main purpose and goal extinguishing an already-existing human life. As a recent FRC publication proves, abortion is not the type of health care for which health care professionals should advocate. Because of these and other reasons, abortion is far from deserving of taxpayer funds and states are sure to continue passing laws that recognize this fact.

State Round-Up: A Growing Number of States Are Protecting Minors from Transgenderism

by Chantel Hoyt

May 19, 2021

Editor’s note: This is the first in an ongoing series about key issues that states have advanced in 2021.

The cultural phenomenon of transgenderism is growing at an astonishing rate. The number of gender reassignment clinics in the United States has increased from one in 2007 to 50 today. In her book, Irreversible Damage, Abigail Shrier reports that most Western countries have seen a 1,000-5,000 percent increase in teenage females seeking treatment from gender clinics and psychologists—many of whom recommend that these girls socially and physically transition through hormones and sometimes surgery. This is aimed at treating what is known as gender dysphoria, defined by the American Psychological Association as “psychological distress that results from incongruence between one’s sex assigned at birth and one’s gender identity.”

One’s sex is never “assigned at birth”; it is always objective and observable by the time of birth. Propagating an ideology of fluid sexuality undermines a scientific understanding of human anatomy and damages children’s lives. The staggering growth of transgender ideology increasingly pressures children to undergo life-altering procedures with puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and irreversible surgeries. These unscientific, destructive gender transition procedures should not be allowed to interrupt the development of children and irreversibly alter their bodies.

States have been taking bold steps to protect vulnerable minors from being harmed by the unscientific idea that people can be “born in the wrong body.” To date, a total of 20 states have introduced gender transition bans in 2021. On April 6, Arkansas became the first state in the nation to ban the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and gender reassignment surgeries for the purpose of gender transition on individuals under 18 when the legislature enacted House Bill 1570, the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, over the governor’s veto.

The Arkansas SAFE Act can be considered the “gold standard” for gender transition procedure bans. Arkansas HB 1570 has four key provisions:

  1. It protects minors from puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and gender transition surgeries (with a professional penalty).
  2. It bans the use of public funds and/or insurance coverage mandates for such procedures on minors.
  3. It includes an exception for the treatment of minors with a diagnosis of a physiological intersex disorder.
  4. It provides legal remedies for minors who have been permanently disfigured and/or sterilized by such procedures.

In addition to Arkansas, four states introduced fairly strong bills this year: Kentucky (HB 336), Mississippi (SB 2171), Iowa (HF 193), and North Carolina (S 514). Each of these bills contains a prohibition and professional penalty (Iowa’s bill includes a civil penalty as well), an exception for minors with a physiological intersex disorder, and legal remedies for minors harmed by such procedures. However, they do not prohibit medical insurance from covering such procedures for minors or put any restrictions on public funds being used for such purposes.

Two other states, Georgia (HB 401) and Indiana (HB 1505, SB 224), also introduced bills with all but the insurance/public funding ban. Yet, these bills impose criminal as opposed to professional penalties, which may make them more difficult to pass. Tennessee’s bills (SB 657 and HB 578), which also contain criminal penalties, are diluted because they allow minors who have entered puberty to be subjected to such procedures, provided they have parental consent and the written consent of two doctors and a psychiatrist. Family Research Council does not support allowing for medical experimentation on minors before they are old enough to make adult decisions.

Twelve states this year have introduced protections for minors that contain criminal penalties but lack legal remedies and/or exceptions for children with physiological intersex disorders (in addition to lacking provisions addressing insurance and public funds). They are:

  • Alabama (SB 10, HB 1, no private right of action)
  • Arizona (SB 1511, lacks key definitions, no private right of action)
  • Florida (HB 935, no private right of action)
  • Kansas (SB 214, HB 2210, no private right of action)
  • Louisiana (HB 575, no private right of action)
  • Missouri (SB 442, lacks key definitions, no exception for intersex disorders, no private right of action)
  • Montana (HB 113, lacks key definitions, no exception for intersex disorders)
  • Oklahoma (SB 583, SB 676, no private right of action, no exception for intersex disorders)
  • South Carolina (HB 4047, no private right of action)
  • Texas (HB 2693, HB 1399, SB 1311, lacks key definitions, no private right of action)
  • Utah (HB 92, no private right of action)
  • West Virginia (HB 2171, no private right of action)

Bills like these have been the most common for gender transition bans since 2017. They would need to add a prohibition on insurance coverage and/or public funding, an exception for minors with intersex disorders, and stronger legal remedies, in addition to trading their criminal penalties for professional penalties.

Two states, Missouri and Montana, introduced very weak bills in 2021. Missouri HB 33 includes a prohibition and professional penalty but no other provisions. Montana HB 427, despite including each key provision besides one addressing insurance and public funds, only prohibits gender reassignment surgery, not the use of cross-sex hormones or puberty blockers. Since the latter is what is most often used on minors, this makes the bill much weaker.

Eight additional states introduced bills from 2017 to 2020. The strongest of these was Minnesota HF 4694, which included each of the key provisions, including a ban on insurance coverage. However, it imposed a civil penalty instead of a professional penalty, had slightly weaker definitions, and lacked findings, among other drawbacks. The next strongest of these bills was Ohio HB 513, which lacked an insurance coverage/public funding ban and imposed criminal penalties. Four of these states—Illinois (HB 3515, 2019), Idaho (H 465, 2019), South Carolina (4716, 2020), and South Dakota (HB 1057, 2020)—lacked most key provisions. Additionally, Idaho’s bill contained criminal penalties and South Dakota’s bill contained a civil penalty, as opposed to a professional penalty. New Hampshire’s bill (HB 1532, 2018) was especially weak, prohibiting gender reassignment surgery for minors but containing no other provisions.

Over the past four years, one thing has been made clear—states want to protect their minors from life-altering procedures such as puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and irreversible surgeries. They have come to grips with the reality that “gender transition” is an experiment. No intervention can change a person’s genetic composition, and the best studies have demonstrated no reduction in the number of completed suicides among those who have transitioned. We have also seen states proposing stronger, more successful bills each year. Arkansas’ SAFE Act made it the first state to pass potent protections for minors. Arkansas HB 1570 is a watermark and standard that states are sure to follow, making a safer United States for future generations.

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