Category archives: States

The New Wave of Pro-Life Legislation

by Family Research Council

April 19, 2022

In the last seven days, an impressive number of Republican states have raced to send pro-life legislation over the finish line. Of course, the backdrop to these gains is the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Mississippi’s abortion law (expected in June) that could potentially overturn Roe v. Wade. Thanks to the bold leaders in Arizona, Oklahoma, Florida, and Kentucky, we’re witnessing a cultural shift that will have generational impact—regardless of what the justices decide.

Arizona’s Governor Takes Major Stride in Protecting the Unborn

On March 30, Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey (R) signed a bill that criminalizes abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. This bill, sponsored by state Senator Nancy Barto (R), also prohibits the prosecution of women who undergo an abortion.

Abortion businesses that breach this law, however, could face felony charges and lose their medical licenses. Physicians can carry out abortions past the 15-week mark only during medical emergencies. The bill does not allow exceptions for instances of sexual abuse.

In a letter, the Republican governor wrote, “In Arizona, we know there is immeasurable value in every life—including preborn life. I believe it is each state’s responsibility to protect them.”

In 2020, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported that 13,186 abortions were carried out in the state. Recent data reveals that 636 were after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Conservatives consider Senate Bill 1164 a victory for the unborn. However, abortion business advocates have condemned the legislation as part of a long-term effort to make abortion illegal in Arizona. 

Senate Bill 1164 will become effective by late summer.

Making Oklahoma the Most Pro-Life State

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) promised his constituents that he would sign every pro-life bill that hit his desk. On April 12, the Republican lawmaker kept his word by signing Senate Bill 612 into law.

The bill makes it a felony for doctors in Oklahoma to carry out abortions with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. Similar to the recently passed bill in Arizona, Senate Bill 612 has no exemption for rape or incest. Women can only undergo abortions if the pregnancy is life-threatening.

This legislation passed both the state House and Senate and was approved by more than 80 percent of elected officials.

Earlier this week, Tony Perkins interviewed Stitt and asked him what political statement various GOP legislators are making by passing pro-life bills.

The United States has some of the most egregious abortion laws in any of the civilized countries,” said Stitt. “For me, personally, standing for godly values, standing for what’s right, I’m more and more emboldened to represent the people of Oklahoma. Every state can do things a little bit differently, but I represent all four million Oklahomans and we overwhelmingly support life.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called Senate Bill 612 an attack on women’s rights and “one of the most extreme state laws signed into law to date.” But Stitt has declared he is committed to making Oklahoma “the most pro-life state in the country.”

Florida Legislators Stand up for the Defenseless 

We are here today to defend those who can’t defend themselves,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) in a press conference on April 14, after signing pro-life legislation.

Similar to Arizona, House Bill 5 bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Previously, abortions in Florida were allowed until 24 weeks of pregnancy.

This law applies even in cases of rape, incest, or human trafficking. This sparked debate in the state Senate, with Democrats strongly objecting and sharing stories of women who decided to undergo an abortion after enduring trauma.

There are only two exemptions to the 15-week ban of abortions. House Bill 5 does not come into effect in instances where a pregnancy is a “serious risk” to the mother. Furthermore, this legislation does not apply in cases where fatal fetal abnormality is detected. A written confirmation from two physicians is required.

Life is a sacred gift worthy of our protection,” DeSantis said in a statement. “I am proud to sign this great piece of legislation which represents the most significant protections for life in the state’s modern history.”

In March, when this bill passed the state Senate 23-15, President Joe Biden called it “a dangerous bill that will severely restrict women’s access to reproductive health care.”

Florida has the third highest rate of abortions in the country with 18.5 abortions per 1,000 women. In 2019, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventions reports that 71,914 abortions were carried out in the state. Once this law goes into effect in June, abortions are expected to decrease drastically.

Kentucky’s Battle to Preserve Life

In Kentucky, unlike the Arizona, Florida, and Oklahoma legislatures, the path to passing pro-life legislation was not easy. Democratic Governor Andy Beshear vetoed House Bill 3, faulting the bill for excluding exemptions for rape and incest.

The governor wrote, “Under House Bill 3, a 12-year-old child that is raped and impregnated by her father would not have the option of a procedure without both the consent of her mother and without also notifying her rapist—her father—at least 48 hours prior to obtaining a procedure.”

On April 13, Kentucky’s Republican-dominated state House and Senate voted to override Gov. Beshear’s veto. The results were 76-21 in the House, and the Senate concurred with a vote of 31-6.

Kentucky’s House Bill 3 echoes Oklahoma law by banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions for the life of the mother. This measure also requires additional reporting requirements for medication abortions. It stipulates that abortion businesses must work with a funeral home to bury or cremate the fetal remains.

Since the bill has an emergency clause, the law is effective immediately. Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union announced they will be filing lawsuits in Kentucky federal court.

Why Does the Far Left Want More Women to Have Abortions?

by Mary Szoch , Joy Zavalick

March 28, 2022

The Texas Heartbeat Act, in its mission to protect babies from abortion once their heartbeats are detectable, has faced legal challenges and resistance from the abortion industry—and come out victorious. Along with saving thousands of lives, Texas has also provided a notable case study as the nation awaits the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case with the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade. While pro-life advocates are ready to care for mothers and their babies in the event Roe is overturned, the far Left that used to call for abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare” is now busily working to ensure that more and more women undergo abortions.

The pro-“choice” façade of the past is finally slipping away as progressives become increasingly bold about their desire to increase the national abortion rate. Recently, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D), who has been outspoken about his goal to direct abortion tourism to his state, signed a new law to make abortion even cheaper for people on private insurance plans. Washington and Oregon also had dramatic reactions to Idaho’s Texas-style heartbeat protection, resisting the neighboring state’s move to protect the unborn.

A recent New York Times article sounded gleeful as it relied on shoddy evidence to report that Texas’ Heartbeat Act had not drastically lowered abortions in the state because women were still able to obtain chemical abortion pills or travel across state lines to undergo abortions. National Review’s Michael New refuted these suspiciously enthusiastic claims, explaining, “the reported out-of-state monthly increase of 1,250 abortions is only a fraction of the in-state decline of 3,200 abortions reported by the Texas State Health and Human Services Commission for September 2021.”

Agents on the far Left are determined to encourage women to undergo abortions, even if abortion is the logically less convenient and less safe option for them. Fund Texas Choice promotes abortion by “provid[ing] travel assistance to Texas residents whether your appointment is in Texas or if you have to travel out-of-state.” The group arranges and pays for hotel stays, bus tickets, flights, and gas for women undergoing abortions in cities where they are not residents—in other words, whatever it takes to make sure that women have abortions. Even private organizations such as Citigroup have also chosen to fund travel for their employees to encourage them to get abortions.

Why are progressives hellbent on pushing dangerous chemical abortions and spending thousands of dollars on travel over the simple solution of carrying a child to term and respecting his or her right to be born? Are they really so deluded as to believe that birth, which women are biologically designed to perform, is more traumatizing than invasive surgical procedures or dangerous chemical regimens? Are they simply mesmerized by the profit they stand to gain from vulnerable women when abortion is normalized? One thing is for certain, those who champion abortion have chosen to reject reality.

Whether they acknowledge it or not, Americans know that every pregnant woman carries a unique, unrepeatable human being within her. It is only when a woman is considering an abortion that anyone denies the humanity of the child. As a visibly pregnant woman walks down the sidewalk or through the grocery store, it is not uncommon for men and women to stop to congratulate her on her baby. In fact, perhaps the only way to be more popular than a pregnant woman carrying a baby in her womb is to be a new mom carrying a baby in her arms. Person after person stops to say hello to the baby, play peek-a-boo, or ask, “Can you give me a smile?”

Today, progressives are tripping over themselves to increase “access” to abortion, but they should recognize there is a better route. As the world awaits a decision in Dobbs, churches, communities, and legislators are working to support moms, dads, and children in need. Instead of doing everything possible to ensure that moms believe their easiest and only option is abortion, it is time for the pro-abortion lobby to accept the truth that daily life affirms: abortion ends the life of a beautiful baby. We invite anyone who is or has previously been part of the pro-abortion lobby to join us. There are countless ways to help moms, dads, and babies in need. Encouraging more abortions is not one of them.

Pro-Abortion States Are Desperately Moving to Codify a “Right” to Abortion

by Chantel Hoyt

March 23, 2022

With the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization quickly approaching, legislators in pro-abortion states are bracing themselves for the possibility that Roe v. Wade’s reign over state abortion laws might finally come to an end, returning to the states the ability to regulate abortion as they see fit and more fully protect unborn life.

Not surprisingly, it is the states with the most pro-abortion laws that are leading the effort to enshrine “abortion rights” language in their state codes or constitutions. Colorado is swiftly moving HB22-1279, the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA), through the legislature, which would not only insert a “fundamental right” to abortion in state statute, but also explicitly deny unborn children any rights under the state (this includes all unborn children, regardless of gestational age).

Maryland (HB 1171) and Vermont (PR 5) are attempting to enshrine a right to abortion in their state constitutions, ensuring that, through future changes in the legislature and governorship, this “right” will remain in the constitution and be difficult to remove. If either of these states are successful, they will become the first to secure a “right to abortion” in their state constitution. If Maryland’s bill passes the Senate, it will go before voters in the state’s November 2022 election. After passing the legislature in February, Vermont’s Proposition 5 is already set to be on the ballot this November.

Additionally, pro-abortion activists in the state of Michigan have launched the Michigan Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative as an effort to get a constitutional amendment ensuring a right to abortion on voter’s ballots this November. Similar to the language of Maryland’s proposed amendment, it establishes a “fundamental right to reproductive freedom,” which shall not be “denied, burdened, or infringed unless justified by a compelling state interest achieved by the least restrictive means.” This amendment would supersede a pre-Roe abortion ban, enacted in 1931, which has been unenforceable due to Roe. In order to get on the ballot, this measure needs to gain 425,059 signatures (equal to 10 percent of votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election). It remains to be seen whether this measure will be on the ballot this year for Michigan voters.

These laws stand to be alarmingly far-reaching, invalidating what few pro-life laws these states have and cementing their current practice of actively funding abortion. Colorado, Maryland, and Vermont’s amendments would guarantee abortion through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason, going far beyond Roe’s precedent of guaranteeing abortion to the point of viability (Michigan’s amendment allows abortion up to the point of viability). Each one of these laws would not only allow but defend abortions sought solely due to the race, sex, or disability of the unborn child.

 In Colorado, some legislators and constituents are cautioning that the RHEA, as currently written, would prevent the state from enforcing its parental notification law for minors seeking abortions. Maryland Right to Life has pointed out that the state’s proposed constitutional amendment would force physicians to carry out abortions against their consciences and religious convictions. After all, if something is a “fundamental right,” can it rightly be denied without the government stepping in to intervene?

Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, and Vermont are each seeking to become abortion destinations in the aftermath of Roe, where women from pro-life states can travel and abortionists can kill their unborn children. As troubling as this is, thankfully, even more states are poised to do just the opposite. Twenty-two states have laws (whether enacted before Roe and never repealed or designed to go into effect in the event Roe is overturned) to protect the unborn at conception or at the point his or her heartbeat can be detected (usually around 6-8 weeks), and others are currently moving to enact legislation to protect more unborn babies. Let these states stand out as a contrast to the states working so hard to maintain their cultures of death. The battle surely rages on, but there is hope in the midst of the darkness.

If you are a pro-lifer living in one of these pro-abortion states, please be encouraged. In Psalm 4:12, David reminds himself of God’s justice and care for the helpless, saying, “I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy.”

If you live in Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, or Vermont, contact your legislators voicing your opposition and vote NO if one of these measures is on your ballot this November. Your voice matters!

For Marylanders, click here to send a message to your state Senators, telling them to oppose HB 1171!

For Coloradans, click here to send a message to your state Senator, telling them to oppose HB22-1279!

Bipartisan Florida Bill Strengthens Fatherhood and Mentorship Programs

by Dan Hart

March 21, 2022

Even in our hypersensitive age, where having the wrong political views can get you fired from your job, it still appears that certain facts of life are so fundamental that liberals and conservatives can occasionally agree on them.

Such was the case in Florida during the first week of March, where HB 7065, a bipartisan bill that, among other things, increases funding for fatherhood and mentorship programs, was passed unanimously in the Florida Senate (38-0) and sent to Governor Ron DeSantis’ (R) desk. Due to the initiative and leadership of Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R), the bill had previously passed the House with another unanimous vote of 117-0.

Despite some on the Left who openly question whether fathers “are necessary,” it’s great to see such a unified front in Florida when it comes to acknowledging the massive problem of absent fathers and the formulation of concrete policies to help right the ship. As the introduction to the bill noted, the astonishing reality in America is that one out of four children grow up without a father. The negative consequences of this grim reality are so far reaching that it can be difficult to quantify, but the bill’s introduction gives a good summary of them:

Children raised in father-absent homes are more likely, on average, to abuse drugs and alcohol, show signs of antisocial and delinquent behavior, and drop out of high school. Such children are also more likely to experience poverty, teen pregnancy, child abuse and neglect, behavioral problems, and death in infancy.

To help get more absent fathers back into their children’s lives, HB 7065 allocates almost $70 million “to help fathers find a job, satisfy child support obligations, transition from being in jail, and [get] parenting education.” The bill would also “provide grants to community-based not-for-profit organizations to offer certain mentorship programs.” As we have written about previously, mentoring youngsters, teens, and young adults who grew up without fathers is a profoundly positive experience not only for those being mentored but also for the mentors themselves.

When we consider the fact that a bill like HB 7065 got unanimous support from both sides of the aisle, it proves that certain universal truths resonate with everyone and transcend political parties. When Democrats and Republicans can come together to unanimously pass a bill that acknowledges the importance of fatherhood, it should give us hope for the future. Perhaps bills like these can be springboards for future bipartisan-supported legislation that focuses on strengthening marriages and families—the foundational cornerstone of civilization.

Heartbeats Protect the Unborn in Idaho

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Joy Zavalick

March 17, 2022

On Monday, Idaho passed SB 1309, known as the “Fetal Heartbeat Preborn Child Protection Act.” This makes Idaho the second state to pass a likely enforceable law protecting unborn children after a heartbeat has been detected, as early as three or four weeks after conception. The bill beautifully states that a baby’s heartbeat “signals rhythmically and without pause the presence of a precious and unique life, one that is independent and distinct from the mother’s and one that is also worthy of our utmost protection.”

In Texas, where the nation’s first successfully-enforced Heartbeat Act went into effect in September, the law has saved an estimated 100 babies each day and caused abortions in the state to drop by 60 percent. Overall, the Texas Heartbeat Act is estimated to have saved close to 20,000 babies since going into effect over six months ago. The United States lost 629,898 precious unborn babies to abortion in 2019 alone; now, thanks to the legislative action of pro-life states such as Texas and Idaho, more and more lives are being saved from joining that tragic annual statistic. In these states, the sound of their own heartbeat is all the self-defense against abortionists that unborn babies need.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization could overturn the legal precedent of Roe v. Wade and return jurisdiction over abortion legislation to the states, making it possible for states to protect their unborn citizens from the evils of abortion. Currently, the legal framework of Roe prevents states from enforcing pre-viability protections for the unborn; Texas and Idaho have been forced to pass laws placing enforcement in the hands of private citizens rather than the state in order to protect unborn life while the precedent of Roe still applies. According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, 26 states are certain or likely to protect the unborn with either currently unenforceable laws that will go into effect in the event that Roe is overturned or by passing similar legislation once it is overturned.

Overturning Roe will make it possible for states to pass laws protecting unborn life without the threat of a Supreme Court challenge or being forced to incorporate the private enforcement mechanisms utilized by Texas and now Idaho. This means the state could enforce their life-protecting laws and provide an even more thorough defense for the unborn.

The Idaho bill follows the unique enforcement mechanism of the Texas law with one clear difference. While the Texas law allows any citizen to bring legal action against anyone who carried out an abortion in Texas, the Idaho law allows only the woman on whom the abortion is being carried out, as well as the father, sibling, grandparent, aunt, or uncle of an unborn child, to bring legal action against the abortionist who kills their unborn relative. The bill makes a specific exception that if a child is conceived in rape, the rapist forfeits the fatherly legal right to sue the abortionist. The empowerment of the unborn child’s family to seek justice is especially poignant when considering the helplessness and grief that many family members feel when a loved one undergoes an abortion. Providing a pathway to legal justice for families is beneficial in more ways than one.

Idaho’s victory for the unborn follows Texas’ most recent triumph over legal disputes against its Heartbeat Act. Last week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the law against the abortion industry’s latest challenge, ensuring that abortion groups cannot sue to end the law because it relies on private citizens rather than state agents for its enforcement.

SB 1309 now heads to the desk of Republican Governor Brad Little for his signature. This bill actually amends an existing heartbeat protection law that the governor signed last April. That law nearly went into effect last year after successful court rulings on the Texas Heartbeat Act. However, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of the Texas law and the addition of some necessary language, this new Idaho bill is poised to go into effect 30 days after the governor’s signature.

Idaho also has a law that would protect unborn life from conception set to supersede this heartbeat law and go into effect whenever Roe v. Wade is overturned. As the nation awaits the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, the potential to return abortion legislation jurisdiction to the states could be within reach. Passing this heartbeat protection shows that the people of Idaho want to protect unborn life now and are looking forward to the day when they can finally protect unborn life from conception.

Idaho, nicknamed the “Gem State” for its abundance of mineral resources, has taken an enormous step toward protecting its most precious natural resource: children. Texas and Idaho have demonstrated their commitment to saving the unborn from abortion to the greatest extent possible under the existing framework of Roe. Will the other 12 states with existing heartbeat protection laws that are not currently enforceable follow suit?

For more information about state abortion laws, see: frc.org/prolifemaps

Correcting the Record on Florida’s “Controversial” Legislation

by Bryan Avila , Joe Harding

February 25, 2022

It’s been said that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. That’s certainly true for Florida House bills 1557 and 7, characterized as “Don’t Say Gay” and “censoring history.”

From “news” articles to “expert” commentary on Twitter, there have been so many lies about our bills that it’s now painfully obvious that hardly anyone has actually read the legislation. 

We’ve stood by as reporters parroted ridiculous phrases and false monikers from the Left as gospel without checking their source material. Newspapers and Tweeters have gotten their clicks and engagement with these exaggerated perspectives. But now it’s time to set the record straight. 

First, let’s address the fact that just about every newspaper headline has called HB 1557 the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. You know what’s not in any of the bill text? The words “gay” and “say.” 

Do you think teachers should instruct 5 and 6-year-olds about sexual orientation and gender identity in our schools? If you said “no,” then you agree with HB 1557, which protects our youngest students from this kind of ridiculous notion. We think we represent most parents when we say that those conversations should be reserved for when parents decide to have them with their kids.

Furthermore, HB 1557 empowers parents to play an active and present role in their child’s schooling by ensuring they have access to records and a role in decisions about mental health and other services for their kids.

Likewise, we see similar lies about House Bill 7. The bill does not ignore or whitewash history, as is frequently misreported; it does the opposite. We expect important history lessons about slavery, the Holocaust, and the suffrage struggle to be taught—and our laws require it. In the bill, we even outline a vision for “Stories of Inspiration” to be told in a new curriculum, highlighting extraordinary Americans who overcame all odds, including racial and other barriers, to make history. 

Would you agree that all people are created equal and that no person is better than another solely based on race, sex, or national origin? If you said “yes,” then you agree with the values outlined in HB 7, which say those should help make up a framework for classroom instruction.

When someone is studying racism and other ugly parts of history, we should and do feel uncomfortable. But that does not mean that our kids should be instructed to feel guilt, anguish, or personal responsibility because of their race, origin, or sex for the sins of the past or of others.  

HB 7 helps prevent this from happening by providing teachers with a clear and unifying framework to teach the facts about history, current events, and more, and not divisive ideologies. 

This is not controversial stuff—81 percent of parents agree they should have a say in what their school teaches and 84 percent of principals and teachers want more family engagement. And it shouldn’t require polling data to say that everyone can agree that all people are created equal. 

Parents and school officials all need to work together to create a supportive learning environment at both school and home. These bills are intended to unify and integrate teaching and care between the student, parent, and school officials. House Bills 7 and 1557 include measures that can be universally agreed upon to provide the transparency and guidelines necessary to create the best educational environment for all of Florida’s children.

Instead of reading what is actually in the bills, many reporters and critics have relied on caustic and divisive statements of the bills’ detractors for clickbait. It’s clear we can’t trust the media to tell the truth about our legislative proposals. Both bills having passed the Florida House today, focus now turns to the Florida Senate. We encourage you to read the bills for yourself at myfloridahouse.gov

Florida House Representative Bryan Avila is a Republican lawmaker from Miami Springs and Speaker pro tempore of the Florida House. He is the sponsor of HB 7, Individual Freedoms. Florida House Representative Joe Harding is a freshman Republican lawmaker from Ocala. He is the sponsor of HB 1557, Parental Rights in Education.

Keeping Children SAFE From Sterilization — in Ohio and Around the Nation

by Joshua Arnold

February 18, 2022

On Thursday, the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act officially began working its way through the Ohio legislature, with a first hearing in the House Committee on Families, Aging, and Human Services. One of the bill’s primary sponsors, Gary Click, testified to the committee that the SAFE Act was “common sense legislation designed to ensure that children and adolescents receive only the best and safest healthcare.”

The SAFE Act “prohibits ‘gender transition procedures’ for minors and the public funding of, insurance coverage of, or referral for such procedures,” explains a brief by Family Research Council. Such procedures are neither reversible nor evidence based, and they have severe negative side effects. The brief continues, “rather than provide the help such children and adolescents need, transgender ideology promotes radical medical interventions, including the use of drugs to block normal puberty and cross-sex hormones and gender reassignment surgery to create the superficial appearance of conformity with the minor’s perceived ‘gender identity.’”

The unmitigated greed of the healthcare industry has led to countless children being mutilated and sterilized for life,” warned Policy Director of Ohio-based Center for Christian Virtue David Mahan. “Sadly, hospitals, schools, and even Planned Parenthood facilities across the state are pressuring families to put children on experimental and dangerous procedures.” He urged the state assembly “to take action before more children are permanently harmed.”

Legislators all around the country are introducing bills like Ohio’s SAFE Act in response to the transgender movement’s increased targeting of children. “A bill like this was not on my radar when I stepped foot into the legislature,” Click said. But each year since 2020, bills to protect children from harmful “gender transition” experiments have been introduced in over 15 states. The Arkansas legislature was the first to successfully pass the SAFE Act into law, doing so over the governor’s veto (a judge has blocked that law while a lawsuit against it proceeds through the judicial system). Currently, the SAFE Act and similar bills (34 in total) have been introduced in 17 states.

In addition to practical, medical, and ethical reasons to support the SAFE Act, there are also theological reasons for Christians to support the legislation,” explained David Closson, Director of the Center for Biblical Worldview at FRC. “Christians should support the passage of laws that tell the truth about the human body. And the truth about our bodies is that God made two distinct yet complementary sexes, male and female.”

Like every righteous cause, the SAFE Act faces fierce opposition. Pro-LGBT activists and their allies in the media attacked the Arkansas bill from every angle imaginable; even the nationwide behemoth 60 Minutes piled on. Proponents of the SAFE Act in other states can expect the LGBT lobby to employ similar aggressive tactics. But they shouldn’t be afraid. Despite the Left’s media blitz, the Arkansas legislature still passed the SAFE Act with a veto-proof majority. Standing up to protect children from harmful irreversible procedures takes a backbone, but it’s not impossible.

Check out FRC’s map tracking bills to protect minors from “gender transition” experimentation to see whether there is a SAFE Act or similar bill in your state. Encourage your state legislators to stand up for children. If they are already promoting these bills, encourage them to continue to stand firm against the attacks of the enemy, “for our struggle is not against flesh and blood.”

For more information, read FRC’s issue analysis, “Do Not Sterilize Children: Why Physiological Gender Transition Procedures for Minors Should Be Prohibited.”

Thinking Biblically About Missouri’s SAFE Act

by David Closson

February 11, 2022

Earlier this week, Missouri state representative Suzie Pollock introduced HB 2649, the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act. If passed, this legislation would prohibit puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and so-called gender reassignment surgeries for minors. The bill also prohibits the public funding, insurance coverage, and referral of such procedures for minors. Arkansas became the first state to pass a SAFE Act last year.

There are many reasons for Christians to support the SAFE Act. These include protecting children from experimental procedures linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and sterility. Studies have also shown that 85 percent of children experiencing feelings of distress as a result of a perceived incongruity between their psychological, self-perceived “gender identity” and their biological sex eventually come to accept their sex around or after puberty. Puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries do not help children grow out of their gender distress. Moreover, there are risks, complications, and concerns associated with gender reassignment surgery for both males and females, as the procedures involve the alteration or removal of biologically normal and functional body parts.

In addition to practical, medical, and ethical reasons to support the SAFE Act, there are also theological reasons for Christians to support the legislation. If law is inherently pedagogical, Christians should support the passage of laws that tell the truth about the human body. And the truth about our bodies is that God made two distinct yet complementary sexes, male and female. Thus, although the SAFE Act focuses on protecting minor children for physiological reasons, there are theological reasons for Christians to support the underlying principles affirmed in this bill, namely, that one’s maleness or femaleness is inextricably tied to biological sex and integral to one’s personhood.

First, the most fundamental distinction between men and women relates to biology. Genetically, men have XY chromosomes; women have XX chromosomes. Thus, when a male asserts that he is a female, he asserts an objective falsehood in terms of biology and genetics. The reality of biological sex cannot be changed by so-called gender transition or reassignment surgery. Surgeries cannot change a person’s genetic blueprint, and while genital surgery may sterilize an individual, it cannot bestow the reproductive capacity of the opposite sex. In other words, a person remains in their biological sex regardless of the gender with which they choose to identify.

This difference between the sexes is taught in Scripture. Moreover, the nature of the difference (i.e., biology) is also affirmed. Genesis 1:26-27 explains God’s original design for the sexes:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

 So God created man in his own image,

    in the image of God he created him;

    male and female he created them.

In verse 26, the focus is on what the man and the woman have in common (i.e., they’re both made in God’s image and tasked with exercising dominion over the created world), but verse 27 highlights the difference (i.e., humanity’s creation as male and female). And this difference is crucial. According to the Bible, God did not create androgynous beings; He created two distinct yet complementary individuals. In other words, the creation of male and female is not accidental or incidental but central to God’s design of human beings created in His image.

Arising from the Bible’s teaching in Genesis 1:27 is the question of what constitutes the difference between the man and the woman. In other words, what is the nature of the difference?  Although increasingly disputed, most people agree that there is something different between male and female. However, it is the nature of this difference that is fiercely contested. Transgender ideology suggests that one’s self-perception determines maleness or femaleness; one’s reproductive structures are inconsequential to the discussion. According to this logic, one’s self-understanding would determine one’s so-called gender identity, but reproductive anatomy would not. But the context of Genesis 1 shows that biology cannot be divorced from maleness or femaleness; in fact, biology is the ultimate determiner of sex and gender.

The fact that biology determines sex is seen in Genesis 1:28 which says, “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.’” A key component of obeying God’s direction to Adam and Eve to “Be fruitful and multiply”—often known as the creation mandate—is procreation which is only possible with two biologically and genetically sexed individuals. Neither the man nor woman could fulfill God’s charge to fill the earth alone. In context, “male and female” in Genesis 1:27 must refer to the differing ways that human bodies are organized for sexual reproduction.

The implication of this teaching is clear. Even if someone feels strongly that they are “male,” they are wrong if their perception of their sex is not in line with their biological makeup. In a fallen world where the consequences of humanity’s initial sin affect our minds as well as our bodies, what we think about ourselves can be mistaken.

In other words, if someone is struggling with gender-confused feelings, a pastor, on the authority of God’s Word, can (and should) kindly tell them that their body isn’t lying to them. A person’s maleness or femaleness isn’t socially constructed. Rather, sex is something that is revealed by God in his special design of male and female bodies.

Second, there is a social dimension to the distinction between male and female. This dimension is touched on in Genesis 2:18, 21-25 which says,

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” …. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,

   This at last is bone of my bones

    and flesh of my flesh;

  she shall be called Woman,

    because she was taken out of Man.”

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

This passage shows that complementarity between the sexes is embedded in God’s good creation. In verse 18, the word “helper” designates a social role for Eve within her marriage to Adam—a role that is inextricably linked to her biological sex. Adam’s creation before Eve and his charge from God designates a social role within his marriage to Eve—a role that is likewise inextricably linked to his biological sex. He is to be the leader, protector, and provider within this marriage covenant.

As ethicist Denny Burk has argued, the implication of this teaching is that God has so made the world that there is a normative connection between biological sex and the social dimension of maleness and femaleness. The social roles of the first man and woman in Genesis 2 are inextricably connected to their biological sex. The New Testament reveals that these roles are not merely descriptive of the first marriage but as normative for every subsequent marriage (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:21-33). 

Additionally, the social order of the first family presumes a normative connection between biological sex and social roles designed for that sex. It also presumes that a man understands himself to be a man and that a woman understands herself to be a woman. Self-identity and bodily identity match one another.

Finally, the Bible teaches that the difference between male and female is good. Consider Paul’s reflection on the Genesis creation account in 1 Timothy 4:4-5: “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.”

Where does Paul get the idea that everything created by God is “good”? Paul is simply reading Genesis 1, which says that God looked at what he had made throughout the six days of creation and said that it was “good.” And when God made the first male and female bodies, he said it was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Paul affirms that what was true about male and female design before the Fall is still true after the Fall. This means that even though God’s good design in creation may be marred by the Fall and by sin, God’s good design is not erased by the Fall and by sin.

The Bible is clear that the distinction between male and female is biological and social. In the biblical worldview, the differences between male and female are also “good” because God declared them good. The responsibility of Christians is to understand and believe these truths. Pastors especially must understand the Bible’s teaching on sexuality and disciple their congregations to think faithfully about them.

The logic of the transgender movement has become so ingrained in many places around our country that even some doctors—those who have pledged to “do no harm”—are willing to perform irreversible procedures that remove perfectly healthy organs on children experiencing gender confusion.

Our cultural moment provides an opportunity for the church to speak into this confusion. And while we pray for revival, we also need to see that barring a move of God in our nation, the culture is only going to get worse and that as the Overton Window shifts on how society thinks about sexuality, it’ll only get harder and harder to pass good legislation.

In short, the urgency of the moment and the weightiness of the subject matter (protecting children) is why legislators should take advantage of the opportunities we have to pass legislation like the SAFE Act. It is also why Christians everywhere should study God’s Word on what it means to be male and female and why we should teach these truths in our churches, Christian schools, and homes.

Abortion Survivors Are One Signature Away from Gaining Full Protection in Ohio

by Chantel Hoyt

December 17, 2021

It is a hopeful day for abortion survivors in Ohio. Senate Bill 157, which requires reporting on the number of infants who survive abortions and strengthens the state’s existing protections for these infants, has been sent to Governor Mike DeWine’s desk. If he signs it, Ohio will become the 10th state to establish reporting requirements regarding abortion survival rates.

This change is significant. Currently, most states do not report abortion survival statistics, so we have no way of knowing just how many babies survive abortion attempts in the United States each year. However, we know that these babies exist. Of the nine states that require reporting, six have confirmed cases of abortion survivors—Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Texas. These states have reported a combined 203 infants who survived abortion attempts since 1997. (It should be noted that Michigan is the only state that has been reporting these numbers as far back as 1997. Most of these states did not begin reporting until at least 2006, and Texas only just began reporting in 2019.)

Given that this data is only from nine states, the true number of abortion survivors in the United States is still largely unknown. The Ohio legislature has done its part to help close the gap—now it’s up to Governor DeWine to see it through.

Ohio SB 157 would do more than simply require yearly reporting on the number of infants who survive abortions. It would require the director of health to develop a child survival form to be submitted to the department each time a child is born alive after an abortion. Some of the information to be gathered on this form includes the type of abortion procedure carried out, the gestational age of the child, and any complications that occurred. With these reports being filed monthly, Ohio would soon have data that would shed light on how often babies are born alive and under what circumstances.

Existing law imposes the criminal penalty of abortion manslaughter if anyone purposely takes the life of a child who is born alive after an attempted abortion. It also requires that care be given to preserve the child’s life. SB 157 would add to these protections by requiring the abortionist to immediately arrange for the transfer of the newborn to a hospital. The bill imposes professional penalties (i.e., revocation or suspension of licensure) for those who fail to comply.

Those in the Ohio legislature who voted for SB 157 have shown themselves to be advocates for abortion survivors. If Governor DeWine signs this bill, the data gleaned as a result will serve to raise awareness about abortion survivors in Ohio and around the country.

Click here to see how your state compares to Ohio regarding Born Alive Protections.

State Round-Up: Restoring the Balance of Religious Freedom

by Nicolas Reynolds , Ben Householder

December 13, 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 free exercise of religion is fundamental to American law, having been enshrined within the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution since 1791. As our society becomes more hostile to religion and fewer Americans identify with an organized religion, it is becoming more common for today’s courts to question the “first” freedom’s preeminent place in society. State legislators can take proactive steps to reverse and prevent further erosion of religious liberty, in part by enacting legislation that affirms this fundamental right. FRC actively supports efforts to pass Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs), which provide state courts with the same legal balancing test that federal courts use to protect free exercise of religion.

When a state legislature passes a law restricting a constitutionally protected right, the courts will deem that law unconstitutional unless it passes the “strict scrutiny” test, which requires the state to demonstrate that the law promotes a “compelling governmental interest” and is narrowly tailored to advance that interest in the “least restrictive means” possible. However, in the 1990 case Employment Division v. Smith, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that laws restricting religious liberty need only pass the “rational basis” test—demonstrating a “legitimate interest” and a neutral application of restrictions. By applying the lowest of the three levels of legal scrutiny, rather than the highest, the U.S. Supreme Court denied religious liberty the legal status a constitutionally protected right deserves.

Congress responded to this injustice by passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which required courts to use the strict scrutiny standard in religious liberty cases. The strongly bipartisan measure passed unanimously in the House, was supported by all but three senators, and was signed by President Clinton. However, in the 1997 case City of Boerne v. Flores, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress had no power to apply this standard to state and local legislation. This Court decision made it vital for each state to pass its own RFRA.

Between 1997 and 2015, 21 states passed RFRA legislation: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. In 2015, serious resistance emerged for the first time due to fears that RFRAs would allow discrimination against individuals who identify as LGBT. Since then, 61 state RFRAs have been proposed across the nation, each requiring strict scrutiny to be applied to all laws and regulations that burden a person’s free exercise of religion. (It’s important to note that some states’ high courts apply a similar “strict scrutiny” standard due to state court precedent; depending on the politics in such a state, it may or may not be advisable to statutorily strengthen that court precedent.)

2021 has been a revolutionary year for RFRAs. Not a single RFRA was passed between 2016 and 2020, but this year has given the movement new life. Three states—Montana (S.B. 215), North Dakota (H.B. 1410), and South Dakota (S.B.124)—have already successfully enacted RFRAs. In New Hampshire, H.B.542 awaits the signature of Republican Governor Chris Sununu. Once New Hampshire’s bill is signed, the United States will be more than halfway to attaining nationwide RFRA coverage.

The Religion … of every man,” according to James Madison (the primary author of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights), “must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it.” States should follow the federal government’s lead and ensure that religious liberty retains the legal status and protections that the Founders originally ascribed to it. Twenty-four states have already done their part—the remaining 26 must quickly follow in their footsteps.

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