Pro-Life Bills Advance in Several US States

Oklahoma, Florida, and Arizona have seen pro-life legislative victories within the past week alone.

(photo: Shutterstock)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Several state-level pro-life measures cleared legislative hurdles this week. Lawmakers have considered several of the proposals before, and already a number of the proposals have advanced further than they did last year.

A bill that would temporarily revoke a doctor’s license for performing an abortion has advanced in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and will proceed to the Senate.

HB 1182 passed the Oklahoma house Feb. 6 by a vote of 71-21. The bill would revoke a physician’s medical license for a minimum of six months and would also provide for a minimum fine of $500.

An amendment added to the bill before the vote provides an exception for a case of an abortion being necessary “to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or to prevent a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”

“Every single human life, born and unborn, has value. It’s our obligation as a civilized people to defend and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves,” author State Rep. Jim Olsen, R-Roland said Feb. 6.

“I’m glad the House stood together to recognize that the most innocent us also deserve our most basic of rights, the right to life. But there is always more work to be done to fight for the lives of the unborn. This is something that a lot of good people have worked on and prayed for, for a long time. I have had the privilege of being a part of that, and I am thankful for the help of the Lord,” Olsen said as quoted by KOCO5 News.

Meanwhile, in Florida, legislation to require parental consent for minors seeking abortions cleared the state Senate by a vote of 23-17 and now moves to the House. Doctors who perform abortions without the parental consent of a girl under 18 would face up to five years in prison for a third-degree felony, the Associated Press reports.

Twenty-six other states already require doctors to have permission from at least one parent before performing an abortion on a minor. Like in most states with parental notification laws, Florida’s proposal would allow minors to petition a judge, acting on behalf of the state, to obtain permission for an abortion.

The permission requirement also would not apply in cases of “medical emergencies” when there is not sufficient time to obtain written permission from a parent.

The AP reports that a similar legislative effort passed the Florida House last year, but the corresponding Senate bill failed to make it out of committees for full Senate debate.

The Florida legislature first enacted a parental consent law in 1979, but the state Supreme Court struck it down a decade later. Currently, girls under age 18 are required in Florida to tell their parent or guardian that they are getting an abortion, but not ask for their permission.

In Arizona, a bill which would provide $3 million over two years for programs seeking to provide services to women and dissuade them from choosing abortion passed a House committee Feb. 6 and a Senate panel earlier in the week.

Arizona lawmakers had considered funding the program last year, but that proposal failed in the Senate.

This year's proposal gives a state hotline for pregnant women, called the 211 service, $1.5 million in the coming budget year, reports, and bans referrals to any medical providers that perform abortions, such as Planned Parenthood.

The pilot program is modeled on the Human Coalition crisis pregnancy centers in Texas and North Carolina, the Arizona Republic reports.

“The purpose of the statewide system is to encourage healthy childbirth, support childbirth as an alternative to abortion, promote family formation, aid successful parenting and increase families' economic self-sufficiency,” the bill reads.

The nonprofit Crisis Response Network, which runs Arizona’s 211 service, had previously included referrals for abortion providers in their service, but had considered dropping them in order to get state funding for its operation.

The Crisis Response Network has agreed to respect the bill’s restrictions should it become law.

An analysis by the Arizona Mirror news site found that people calling the 211 service seeking information on abortions in 2018 accounted for a very small number of the total calls the service recieved: according to the analysis, just three of more than 950,000 calls.