State Pro-Life Laws of 2021
A comprehensive list of all pro-life legislation passed in 2021 and what states might be working on in this New Year.
Editor's Note: The following list of recent and forthcoming abortion-related and life-related activity in the 50 states was compiled with information provided by Ingrid Duran, director of state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee, supplemented by the text of bills and by news reports.
The state’s Human Life Protection Act, enacted in May 2019, is awaiting action in the federal courts. It would ban abortions at all stages, with exceptions for fatal fetal anomalies, a serious health risk to the mother, or in cases where a mentally ill mother would commit suicide or harm the baby.
A “Life at Conception” bill was introduced in 2021; it did not pass.
The Arizona Legislature passed an omnibus bill in April 2021 (subsequently signed by the governor) that bans abortions because of a baby’s sex, race or genetic abnormality; prohibits public schools from making referrals for abortions; requires abortion businesses to provide an ultrasound evaluation of a developing child, including likely gestational age, at the request of a woman seeking an abortion; bans public funding for almost all abortions; requires abortion facilities to inform women who have taken the first of two scheduled doses of abortion-inducing drug mifepristone that inform her that the use of that drug “is not always effective”; and requires humane disposal of the bodily remains of an aborted child.
The Arkansas Legislature passed 11 pro-life laws in 2021, including (in March 2021) Arkansas Senate Bill 6, which seeks to abolish abortion. The Arkansas Constitution includes Article 68, an amendment voters approved in 1988 that prohibits public funding of abortion and states “that the policy of Arkansas is to protect the life of every unborn child from conception until birth, to the extent permitted by the federal constitution.” A federal judge has blocked implementation of the 2021 anti-abortion statute, citing past U.S. Supreme Court rulings.
The governor signed into law in September 2021 a bill that prohibits health-insurance companies from informing parents that their minor children covered by the plan have had an abortion or a sex-change operation. A bill that would require health-insurance companies to pay the entire cost of an abortion without a co-pay has not yet passed.
The state has no restrictions on abortion, which makes it a go-to place for late-term abortions. A statewide referendum seeking to ban abortions at 22 weeks in November 2020 failed, 59% 41%. Some state legislators say they plan to introduce pro-Roe v. Wade legislation in 2022.
A bill enacted into law in May 2021 that targets crisis-pregnancy centers for purportedly deceptive advertising is the subject of a federal lawsuit on First Amendment freedom-of-speech grounds.
A bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks (when developing children are said to be able to feel pain) did not pass.
Pro-lifers expect to see a bill introduced in the Florida Legislature in 2022 that would ban abortions at 15 weeks. Some pro-lifers are also collecting signatures to try to bring before voters in November 2022 a Human Life Protection Amendment to the Florida Constitution that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected — typically around six weeks. A 60% majority is needed to pass a constitutional amendment in Florida. In 2012, a proposed constitutional amendment that would have prevented the Florida Constitution from being interpreted “to create broader rights to an abortion than those contained in the United States Constitution” and that would have banned public funding for most abortions failed, 55% to 45%.
The Georgia Legislature in March 2019 passed a bill (known as the Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act) that seeks to prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected — typically around six weeks into pregnancy. The governor signed it. Federal courts have prevented it from being enforced, pending the outcome of the Dobbs case in Mississippi now before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2021, the Georgia Legislature passed a bill that prohibits doctors and hospitals from issuing a do-not-resuscitate order for a child without the consent of the child’s parents (known as Simon’s Law). The legislature also passed a bill (known as Gracie’s Law) that prohibits doctors from discriminating against people with disabilities when considering organ transplants. The governor signed both.
The Hawaii Legislature in 2021 passed a proposed bill that would allow non-physicians to perform abortions.
The state enacted in March 2020 a so-called “trigger law” bill that would make abortion illegal (except for cases of rape and incest or to save the life of the mother) automatically if the U.S. Supreme Court “restores to the states their authority to prohibit abortion.” In April 2021, the state enacted a bill that requires abortion facilities to provide information about therapy and treatment strategies for Down syndrome to women seeking abortions. In May 2021, the state banned public funding of abortion.
The governor in December 2021 signed into a law a bill removing (starting Jan. 1, 2024) a requirement that parents be notified at least 48 hours in advance of their daughters getting an abortion. The current state law does not require consent of the parents, only notification.
The state in 2021 enacted a bill requiring that abortion businesses report abortion complications to the state. A 2019 ban on dilation-and-extraction abortions (also known as dismemberment abortions) has been blocked by a federal court injunction.
The Iowa Legislature in May 2021 approved a bill seeking to propose an amendment to the Iowa Constitution stating that the state constitution “does not recognize, grant, or secure a right to abortion or require the public funding of abortion.” It would flip an April 2017 ruling of the Iowa Supreme court. If the Iowa Legislature approves the amendment one more time in either 2023 or 2024, it will go to a statewide referendum in November 2024.
The Kansas Legislature in January 2021 approved the proposed “Value Them Both” amendment to the Kansas Constitution, which would explicitly allow the state legislature to restrict or prohibit abortion and public funding for abortion. The amendment would flip an April 2019 decision of the Kansas Supreme Court finding that the Kansas Constitution protects abortion as a fundamental right. A statewide referendum on the amendment is scheduled for Aug. 2.
A statewide referendum in November 2022 is set to ask voters whether they want to approve an amendment to the Kentucky Constitution stating that the constitution “does not secure or protect a right to abortion or funding of abortion.” The Kentucky Legislature approved the amendment language in March 2021. In January 2021, the state legislature enacted (without the governor’s signature) a born-alive bill that requires “medically appropriate and reasonable medical care” for babies born alive after an attempted abortion.
In November 2020, state voters approved the Love Life Amendment to the Louisiana Constitution, which states that “nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” It passed 62% to 38%.
The Louisiana Legislature in 2021 passed three pro-life bills, signed into law by the governor. One bill requires doctors who prescribe the abortion-inducing drug mifepristone to disclose to patients that the drug “is not always effective at ending a pregnancy” and that if a patient regrets her decision after taking the first of a two-pill regimen, she should see a physician to see if the abortion pill can be reversed. Another bill restricts which courts a minor seeking an abortion can go to if seeking a judicial bypass from parental consent and requires an individual abortion report to be filed by doctors who perform abortions. Another bill requires the state to collect more information about abortions than it did previously.
While several pro-life bills were introduced in the Maine Legislature in 2021, none passed.
A proposed amendment to the Maryland Constitution seeking to create a constitutional right to privacy that critics say would be used to declare a fundamental right to abortion was withdrawn in March 2020.
In December 2020 the Massachusetts Legislature enacted (over the governor’s veto) the so-called “ROE Act” bill, which removed a provision in state law that previously required doctors to try to save the life of a baby born alive after an attempted abortion. The bill also decreased the age of girls needing consent from a parent or a judge for an abortion to 15, from 17. In late 2021, a bid to bring a born-alive act referendum before state voters failed to get the needed number of signatures.
A state appropriations bill enacted in March 2021 requires that recipients of a coronavirus vaccine administered with federal funds “shall be provided with information or informed if and in what manner the development of the vaccine utilized aborted fetal tissue or human embryonic stem cell derivation lines.”
While several pro-life bills were introduced in the Minnesota Legislature in 2021, none passed.
In 2018 the Mississippi Legislature passed a bill (signed into law by the governor) that sought to ban abortions after 15 weeks. That statute is the heart of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court that could lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. In 2021 the Mississippi Legislature passed a bill that requires doctors who diagnose Down syndrome to new or expectant parents to provide information about treatment options and other information.
The Missouri Legislature expanded a state tax credit for adopting children. The governor signed the bill into law in April 2021.
The governor in April 2021 signed into law bills banning abortions after 20 weeks, requiring that women seeking an abortion be offered a chance to view an ultrasound image of their unborn child before an abortion takes place and prohibiting abortion-inducing drugs from being administered through online telehealth sessions.
In August 2020, the Nebraska Legislature banned dilation-and-extraction abortions, also known as dismemberment abortions.
Voters are to decide in November 2022 whether to adopt an Equal Rights Amendment to the Nevada Constitution, which the state legislature approved. It doesn’t mention abortion, but many observers think the language of an Equal Rights Amendment would be used by courts to construe a right to abortion.
In June 2021 the governor signed a state budget bill that banned abortions after 24 weeks unless the life of the mother is at stake. The new law took effect Jan. 1, 2022.
In October 2021 the state’s Board of Medical Examiners voted to allow non-physicians to perform abortions. The New Jersey Legislature in 2021 considered but did not pass a proposed “ROE Act” bill that would expand access to abortion.
The New Mexico Legislature in 2021 repealed a pre-Roe v. Wade ban on abortions. The state also legalized physician-assisted suicide.
No action was taken on pro-life bills introduced in the New York Legislature in 2021.
In January 2019, New York’s then-governor signed into law a sweeping statute allowing abortion up to 24 weeks and under certain circumstances up until birth.
The governor vetoed in June 2021 a born-alive bill approved by the North Carolina Legislature, which did not override the veto.
The North Dakota Legislature in March 2021 rescinded its 1975 ratification of the proposed federal Equal Rights Amendment, which many observers say could be used by courts to justify a constitutional right to abortion.
In December 2021 the governor signed a born-alive bill, requiring that babies born alive after an attempted abortion receive life-saving care. A fetal-heartbeat bill banning abortions after about six weeks into pregnancy, enacted in 2019, has been blocked by federal courts. Ohio in 2021 also enacted a ban on telemedicine abortions and a requirement that aborted children be humanely buried or cremated.
The Oklahoma Legislature in 2021 passed (and the governor signed into law) a bill that bans abortions when a heartbeat can be detected in an unborn child — about six weeks into pregnancy. The state also enacted bills that prevent abortion-inducing pills from being sent by mail; require that only a qualified physician can prescribe an abortion-inducing drug; require that only a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist can perform an abortion; require the humane disposal of fetal remains; and ban trafficking in fetal body parts.
Oregon has no restrictions on abortion, according to Oregon Right to Life.
Several pro-life bills were introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature in 2021, but none passed.
In June 2019 the state’s then-governor signed a bill into law that codified legal abortion prior to an unborn child being able to live outside a mother’s womb.
The state enacted a fetal-heartbeat bill that would make abortions illegal at about six weeks. Federal courts have blocked the statute from being enforced.
In February 2021, the governor signed a born-alive bill. In September 2021, the governor issued an executive order requiring that abortion-inducing drugs be prescribed in person by a physician and not by telemedicine. Another bill requires that women who get a fatal fetal-anomaly diagnosis for their unborn child receive information about perinatal hospice services.
The Tennessee Legislature passed a bill (signed by the governor) in May 2021 that bars any legal cause of action for so-called “wrongful birth,” in which a person sues on the grounds that a baby should have been aborted. The legislature also passed a bill that requires humane disposal of the remains of a dead unborn child.
The Texas Legislature in May 2021 passed the Texas Heartbeat Act, which allows anyone to sue an abortion provider who performs abortions after a heartbeat can be detected in an unborn child — about six weeks into pregnancy. A so-called trigger bill in the state would make abortion illegal if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that states can do so. The budget bill passed by the Texas Legislature included funds for alternatives to abortion. Another bill passed and enacted bans dispensing abortion-inducing drugs by mail or by courier and after seven weeks of pregnancy.
The Utah Legislature passed a so-called trigger law in 2020, which would make abortion automatically illegal in the state if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that states can make their own decisions on abortion.
Voters are set to decide in November 2022 if Vermont will become the first state in the country to enshrine abortion as a right in its state constitution. A constitutional amendment approved by the state legislature is to go to statewide referendum. In 2019 the Vermont Legislature passed a statute that removes virtually all restrictions on abortion, up through birth.
The Virginia Legislature in 2021 repealed laws that sought to limit abortions, including requirements for informed consent and an ultrasound image to be offered to women seeking an abortion. The state also started allowing non-physicians to perform abortions during the first trimester.
The Washington Legislature enacted a bill in April 2021 that requires student health plans to pay for abortions.
The West Virginia Legislature in April 2021 passed a bill (subsequently signed by the governor) requiring that abortion providers inform women who have taken the first of two scheduled doses of an abortion-inducing drug that the drug may not work and may possibly be reversed before the second dose is taken.
Five pro-life bills passed by the Wisconsin Legislature in 2021 were vetoed by the governor in December 2021. Supporters didn’t have the votes to override the veto. Among them was a born-alive bill and an abortion-pill-reversal bill.
The Wyoming Legislature passed bills that were enacted into law that provide protections for born-alive infants and for unborn victims of violence. Another bill prevents the University of Wyoming from using state funds to pay for abortions.
This story was updated after posting to correct the information on Hawaii.
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