WASHINGTON — A new report finding “significant victories for life” in state-level legislation during 2012 has left a leading U.S. pro-life group hopeful about the coming year.
“More than half of states have pro-life governors and pro-life majorities in their legislatures,” said Dan McConchie, vice president of state legislative action for Americans United for Life, “so we expect pro-life advances to replicate the high levels of success in the past couple of years across the country.”
McConchie told Catholic News Agency that he expects to see “continued interest in restraining abortion coverage” in the new health-care law throughout 2013, as well as “late-term abortion bans, regulation of abortion-inducing drugs and clinic regulations.”
On Jan. 16, Americans United for Life released its annual “Life List,” ranking all 50 states according to their ongoing legal efforts to protect life.
The 2013 list observed that the past year had seen “historic progress for life-affirming legislation” throughout the country.
“Last year, at least 60 new life-affirming laws, including at least 38 measures related to abortion, were enacted,” the report said. “Additionally, 16 pro-life state resolutions were adopted.”
Americans United for Life has worked for years to model and help enact language for pro-life legislation in states throughout the country.
Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of the organization, said the state-level successes lay “the foundation for rolling back and reversing Roe v. Wade,” the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion nationally 40 years ago.
She predicted that the coming year will see numerous bills “that also work to protect the First Amendment freedom of all Americans who do not want to be forced into business with 'big abortion.'”
The “Life List” found that the most legislatively pro-life states in America are Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Arizona, while Washington state, California, New York, Vermont and New Jersey are the least protective of life.
Most improved in 2012 was Arizona, which rose to No. 5 on the list from No. 14 the previous year. This was partly due to the adoption of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which bans abortions after 20-weeks gestation based on medical evidence of the danger that such abortions pose to women’s health, as well as the unborn child’s capacity to feel pain.
In addition, South Carolina became the eighth state to pass legislation banning insurance plans that cover abortion from participating in any exchanges operating in the state under the health-care-reform law.
Among the most popular abortion-related legislation in 2012 were bans on government and insurance funding for abortion and restrictions on drugs that can induce early abortions. Ultrasound requirements, abortion-facility regulations and informed-consent laws were also common.
Americans United for Life also noted a nearly 40% rise in the number of measures initiated to protect freedom of conscience in health care, as well as a significant increase in end-of-life measures.
However, the group said, 2012 saw a nearly 50% decrease in biotechnology measures from the previous year, with only two states considering bans on embryo-destroying research and none initiating bans on human cloning.
The report observed that many of the least pro-life states on the list have had a state court “manufacture” a constitutional “right” to abortion beyond what is federally recognized. Others have enacted legislation that effectively blocks laws and regulations that would protect women and unborn children from abortion.
“For those states that have the least-protective laws, the priority really should be the basic protections, especially informed consent and parental involvement,” said McConchie. “Women considering abortion deserve both information and support before they make a monumental decision of this nature.”