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April 12, 2012

Column #1,598

States Pass Eighty Pro-Life Laws

By Mike McManus

            On the last day of its legislative session, Georgia became the seventh state to enact a “fetal pain” law that will reduce by six weeks the time women can get an abortion. Last week Ohio became number eight. 

            It is based on controversial scientific evidence that a baby in the womb can experience pain by the 20th week of gestation, four months before its birth. Therefore, no abortion can be performed unless the baby is delivered alive.  Exceptions are not made for rape or incest, though the Georgia law would allow an abortion for “medically futile” pregnancies if the fetus has congenital or chromosomal defects.

            “We commend the Legislature,” said Dan Becker, President of Georgia Right to Life. “This is one of the toughest pro-life laws in the nation.  It will save roughly 1,500 lives a year.”

            However, Democratic female legislators stormed out after the bill was passed by the House, wearing yellow police tape, shouting “We will remember.”  Sen. Nan Orrock of Atlanta quipped, “The GOP War on women is alive and well in Georgia.”

            Another way to put it is that the pro-life movement is alive and well in the United States. Eighty pro-life laws have been adopted in recent years to reduce access to abortion. Nebraska was the first state to pass a fetal pain bill in 2010, which was quickly followed by Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia and Ohio. North Carolina also restricts abortion at 20 weeks. None of these bills have been challenged in court by opponents.

            Mississippi and Ohio Houses of Representatives even passed bills to ban abortions after the first detectable heartbeat, which can occur within six weeks of conception. Their Senates hasn’t yet voted on it, which a poll shows is equally supported and opposed by the public.

            Pro-lifers persuaded Texas to cut $16 million  from Planned Parenthood, which is America’s largest provider of abortions., New Jersey trimmed $7.5 million from the organization  Other states reducing Planned Parenthood funding are Florida, Indiana, Kansas, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

            The Obama Administration has retaliated by threatening to cut Texas Medicaid funding by $40 million.  Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit this week seeking to block its defunding. It claims the measure “could deprive tens of thousands of low-income women seeking family planning and other preventive health services.” 

            Nonsense.  Texas has given the funding to groups which provide such services, but do not perform abortions.  Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is not cowed. He’s filed a counter-suit against the Obama Administration for cutting off federal funding.

            “Federal law gives the state the right and responsibility to establish criteria for Medicaid providers, so we’re on firm legal ground,” said members of the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.

            Another series of pro-life laws involve ultrasound, which allows a pregnant woman to see her baby in her womb.  For example, Georgia was the tenth state to pass an ultrasound bill that required giving mothers considering an abortion the opportunity to view the ultrasound if it is performed as part of preparation for abortion.  The hope is that if she views her baby, most mothers would decide to keep it.

            However, Georgia abortionists are not required to offer all women that opportunity, if it is not “part of preparation for the abortion.” 

            That’s such a weak provision the number of abortions is rising. Gen Wilson, co-director of Georgia Right to Life, notes that since the law was passed in 2007, abortions have grown about 1,000 a year from 31,030 in 2007 to 35,585 in 2010.  And they rose by a tenth in Louisiana and Arizona.

            On the other hand, Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana and Mississippi all require abortionists to offer the opportunity to view the ultrasound.  Result: Florida’s abortions fell from 103,000 in 2000 to 94,400 and they dropped by about a tenth in Kansas and Alabama, and by a quarter in Mississippi.     

            “We talk about accumulating victories,” said Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life.  “Any time you want to make long-term change, on an issue that’s been extremely controversial, you do it by developing momentum.  You don’t change something all at once overnight.”

            By that yardstick, pro-lifers have much to be proud about.  The number of abortions nationally has dropped from about 1.6 million in 1990 to 1.2 million in recent years.

            However, those figures do not include chemical abortions, which are rising.

            Scripture puts it best: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live” (Duet. 30:19).


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