Study shows significant rise in state pro-life laws

By Michelle Bauman

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Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee.

The leader of a national pro-life organization believes that increasing levels of state restrictions on abortion reflect the growing momentum behind the pro-life movement in the U.S.

“Pro-lifers work extremely hard to elect pro-life candidates,” said Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee.

Tobias told CNA on April 2 that while pro-life measures at the federal level are being blocked by the Senate and President Barack Obama, numerous “successful elections” on the state level have made it easier to pass pro-life legislation in recent years.

Right-to-life issues, she explained, are becoming an increasingly important priority for many voters in America.

A March 15 analysis by the Guttmacher Institute – a research organization formerly connected to Planned Parenthood – found that 55 percent of all reproductive-age women in the U.S. lived in states with at least four significant abortion restrictions in 2011.

This number has risen by 24 percent since 2000, the analysis said, observing “a dramatic shift in the abortion policy landscape at the state level over the past decade.”

It added that there were “a record number of abortion restrictions that were enacted in 2011.”
The analysis found that thirty-five states have remained at the same level of abortion limitations since 2000, while 15 have increased their restrictions on abortion. No states have become less restrictive in their abortion laws in the last decade.

While states in the Northeast and along the West Coast maintain consistently abortion-friendly laws, those in the middle and South regions of the country have seen increased limitations on abortion in the recent years.

Among the pro-life provisions that many states have adopted are restrictions on abortion coverage in private health insurance plans and requirements for counseling, ultrasounds or waiting periods prior to an abortion.

Some states have also passed laws requiring parental involvement in a minor’s abortion or banning abortions at certain stages of fetal development or under certain circumstances.

Other regulations provide for a state-level ban on abortion that would go into effect immediately if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned or prohibit Medicaid funding of abortions except in cases of rape, incest or endangerment of the mother’s life.

Tobias said that these “common sense” laws have received widespread support in numerous states because they “protect mothers and babies” and allow women to receive “all the medically relevant information” before choosing an abortion.

She explained that the pro-life movement in the U.S. is gaining “psychological” energy with the approach of the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion throughout the country.

“It’s pretty big benchmark,” she said.

“We are seeing a lot of young people who are getting involved,” she added. “They want to make a difference.” The growing youth component is bringing “energy” and “new ideas” to pro-life advocacy.

Tobias also observed that continuing advances in science and technology also contribute to the growth of the pro-life movement.

Many parents and grandparents get their first glimpse of a new baby through an ultrasound picture, she said, noting that it is no longer uncommon to see ultrasound photos taped to a refrigerator or posted on social networking websites.

“America can see that this is a human being,” she explained, adding that once the baby’s humanity is clear, it is “hard to justify or accept” his or her killing.

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