Americans United for Life (AUL) recently released the group’s annual report of state-level pro-life and pro-abortion legislation signed thus far in 2021, the results of which have led the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute to label 2021 as “the worst legislative year ever for U.S. abortion rights.” The AUL report further highlighted the types of legislation being introduced by pro-life legislators across multiple states, as well as the type of anti-life legislation that is gaining significant and concerning momentum.
While the Texas Heartbeat Act, banning abortions performed after the detection of a preborn child’s heartbeat, gained the most media attention, many other states saw notable pro-life progress.
Pro-life legislative trends this year included introduction of born-alive bills that would ensure medical care for babies who survive abortion attempts. Nineteen states introduced measures this year, and seven of them have passed. Nine states passed laws regulating chemical abortions, even as the pro-abortion Biden-Harris administration appears poised to remove many of the FDA safeguards intended to protect women who undergo chemical abortions. Six states passed legislation limiting or eliminating taxpayer funding for abortion. Six states also improved abortion complication reporting and strengthened other safety requirements.
By the numbers, Arkansas saw the most pro-life wins this year, as 15 laws were signed increasing oversight of abortion providers in that state, improving informed consent regarding chemical abortions, strengthening transparency around abortion complication reporting, and ensuring increased protection of conscience rights for healthcare professionals.
Electoral wins in 2020 made pro-life progress possible in Montana and New Hampshire. Following years of abortion legislation stalemates due to a divided legislature, this year, Montana’s Governor Gianforte signed six new pro-life laws, including what AUL called “the most comprehensive chemical abortion in the country.” Other Montana legislation banned abortions performed after the baby can feel pain, mandated that abortion-minded women be offered the opportunity to view their ultrasound and hear their baby’s heartbeat, required that medical care be provided to babies who survive botched abortions, blocked abortion providers from receiving Title X funds, and prevented certain health insurance plans from covering abortion.
In New Hampshire, pro-life legislators helped pass a budget package which created a gestational age limit of 24 weeks whereas abortion was previously allowed up until birth, required ultrasounds for accurate dating of the pregnancy before every abortion, and prohibited Title X funding for abortion providers.
Alongside the many pro-life wins, AUL noted disappointing losses in places like California, which dramatically sped up the assisted suicide process by shortening the window between assisted suicide requests and actual dispensation of the pills. After previous failed attempts, 2021 was the year Connecticut passed a discriminatory law against pregnancy resource centers. Additionally, New Mexico legalized physician-assisted suicide. In Washington, any student health plan that covers maternity services must now also cover abortions. While not noted in the AUL report, Illinois very recently repealed its lone abortion restriction, which required parental notification before minors could obtain abortions.
AUL noted that 22 states considered over three dozen bills concerning legalizing or further expanding physician-assisted suicide. While the only actual victories were as noted above in New Mexico and California, the assisted suicide movement has picked up steam at an alarming pace in the United States and internationally.
AUL’s report demonstrates momentous pro-life gains on multiple fronts at the state level across the country this year, reflecting the large percentage of Americans who seek to restrict abortion. At the same time, pro-abortion or anti-life gains in strongly pro-choice states necessitate a robust pro-life response, especially regarding the recent wildfire spread of assisted suicide legislation.
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