Republican lawmakers in Michigan’s Senate passed legislation to prohibit doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing drugs via online video chats with patients. The measure passed by a 12-vote margin, and extended an existing ban on abortion medications which would have expired in 2019.
Under the new law, women who desire abortion-inducing drugs must visit a physical clinic to obtain the medication. Pro-abortion lawmakers protested that Michigan women may lack access to such clinics, especially in rural areas of the state.
“Telemedicine works,” stated Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor). “The bill before us forces Michigan backwards, plain and simple. The motivation here is purely ideological, not medical, and quite frankly it’s unconstitutional.”
Genevieve Marnon, legislative director for Right to Life of Michigan, expressed a different view. The FDA limits access to abortion-inducing drugs to reduce harmful side effects, she noted: for example, FDA regulators prohibit women from obtaining mifepristone (a common abortion medication) at retail pharmacies. Thus, for pro-life advocates, Michigan’s new law simply respects the spirit of FDA policy.
Since 19 other states have enacted telemedicine abortion bans, Marnon deems Michigan’s bill a “pre-emptive” move amid widespread support for restrictions on abortion drugs. Roughly 9,000 abortions were performed via medication in Michigan last year, Marnon noted.
The Michigan House will consider the measure later this month.
Oklahoma senator Joseph Silk (R-Broken Bow) is working to stop all abortions in the state by classifying abortion as a felony homicide, reports ABC affiliate WGNO.
“It’s gonna be classified as a homicide because, essentially, a fertilized egg is a human life just like a 1-year-old baby is a human life. So, an abortion would be considered intentionally taking a human life,” Silk explained.
Silk hopes his measure will override federal laws which permit abortions in Oklahoma. “The Attorney General shall direct state agencies to enforce [the abortion ban] regardless of any contrary or conflicting federal statutes, regulations, executive orders, or court decisions,” the bill reads.
Silk has no qualms about opposing the Supreme Court’s rulings on abortion. “The Supreme Court also ruled . . . that slaves were private property and they were wrong. And so, the courts do need to be challenged,” Silk stated.
The ACLU’s Oklahoma chapter expressed outrage at Silk’s proposal. The measure attacks Oklahoma women’s reproductive rights, believes Allie Shinn, who serves as deputy director for the chapter. “I’m not sure where Joseph Silk got to decide that he’s the morality police, but nobody elected him to do that,” Shinn said.
Silk responded that his measure is justifiably comprehensive. It includes no exceptions for rape and incest victims, for instance, because so few cases of rape and incest occur in Oklahoma. “The numbers of rape and incest are so tiny, under half a percent. So, it’s almost not even an arguable question,” Silk explained.
Ultimately, Silk seeks to respect the personhood of all unborn children, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their birth. “It is a human life, regardless of how it came to be,” Silk said.
A Kentucky legislator introduced a bill to ban doctors from aborting babies with detectable heartbeats, according to The Hill. Physicians who violate the proposed ban could be charged with a Class D felony and face up to five years in prison.
The measure would require doctors to examine unborn children for a heartbeat before performing abortions. If a fetus presents a heartbeat, a physician could only proceed with the abortion to avert a medical emergency.
Kentucky state representative Robert Goforth (R) prefiled the bill earlier in December for Kentucky’s 2019 legislative session.
“My proposal recognizes that everyone has a right to life,” Goforth explained. “My personal belief is that life begins at conception and ends at natural death. A heartbeat proves that there’s life that deserves protection under law–if a heart is beating, a baby needs to be protected and given an opportunity to live.”
Goforth noted that his bill represents a landmark in the history of Kentucky’s pro-life movement. “This is the most pro-life piece of legislation that has ever been filed in the Kentucky Legislature,” he said. Goforth recognizes that the measure may face judicial hurdles if it becomes law, but nevertheless deems his efforts worthwhile.
“I look forward to the day our laws and our court system give unborn children the legal right to life that they deserve so they can grow and live happy and productive lives,” he stated.
January 8th marks the start of the Kentucky General Assembly’s next session, during which legislators will consider Goforth’s bill.
Ohio and Iowa have already debated similar heartbeat legislation this year. In both states, the measures have not yet arrived at the governor’s desk.
More American women are choosing life for their children than ever before, according to the latest government data on abortion.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the US abortion rate fell 26% between 2006 and 2015 to reach an all-time low. Further, the national abortion ratio–which weighs abortions against live births–also declined to record lows. In 2005, 233 abortions occurred for every 1,000 live births. In 2015, officials documented only 188 abortions per 1,000 live births.
According to other research, America’s abortion rate has fallen concurrently with global abortion rates. Across Europe and North America, infanticide has become gradually less prevalent in developed nations. The trend extends back to the 1990s: during that decade, 45 out of every 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 had an abortion. By the early 2010s, just 27 out of every 1,000 women obtained abortions in developed countries.
To explain the international decline in abortion rates, researchers point to several factors, including improved access to contraceptives, new pro-life legislation, and changing attitudes among millenials.
More restrictive abortion laws, for example, have reduced the incidence of infanticide: Globally, 39% of women of reproductive age cannot terminate their pregnancies, because no abortion clinics operate nearby.
Further, during the 1970s and 1980s, older pro-lifers in the United States significantly outnumbered their younger counterparts. Today, however, young people in the US express greater support for pro-life measures than older generations.
A 2017 Quinnipiac poll revealed that Americans aged 18 to 34 were more likely than older citizens to favor a 20-week abortion ban. Rasmussen’s 2013 study on the same topic reached similar conclusions.
To view graphical representations of the international decline in abortion rates, visit Vox news’ article on the subject.
Pro-life activists and public officials made significant legislative gains in 2018, reports the Huffington Post. Lawmakers passed nearly two dozen new protections for unborn children last year, including an unprecedented number of comprehensive abortion restrictions.
Iowa, for example, banned abortions of unborn children with detectable cardiac activity. Doctors frequently detect fetal heartbeats after just six weeks of gestation. Mississippi, meanwhile, voted to prohibit abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Both states have eclipsed a benchmark previously established by pro-life activists: to ban abortions after 20 weeks of gestation.
Pro-life lawmakers’ goals have become more ambitious, notes Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion think tank. “In some states that already have so many restrictions on the books, all that is left is to ban abortion . . . the next big leap is an early abortion ban,” Nash said.
State legislators also moved to protect unborn children from discrimination based on disability. In late 2017, Ohio legislators prohibited doctors from aborting an unborn child simply because the child has been diagnosed with Down syndrome. The bill belongs to a broad family of legislative proposals which seek to protect unborn children from unequal treatment based on race, gender, or physical abnormality.
Further, pro-life activists successfully campaigned to ban abortion by “dilation and evacuation” in Kentucky. Such abortions dismember unborn children in order to remove them from the mother’s womb. Nash notes that Kentucky’s law would prohibit most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Finally, pro-life litigators sought to challenge permissive abortion statues in the courts. The appointments of conservative justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh have encouraged states to challenge the Supreme Court’s longstanding Roe v. Wade decision. “You have states across the country that are essentially lining up with prefiled abortion bans,” Nash said.
“If a state passes an abortion ban, it will be challenged and work its way through the system and can have impact[s] across the entire country. Because if the Supreme Court overturns or undermines Roe v. Wade, that applies to every state, not just the state with the case.”
States such as Oregon with no laws protecting the unborn, however, would not see any legal changes if Roe v. Wade were overturned.
Italy has experienced a steady decline in abortion rates, even though the country legalized abortion four decades ago, reports PRI. The reason? Doctors have become increasingly pro-life, and refuse to perform even legal abortions. Under Italy’s abortion law, gynecologists may register as “conscientious objectors,” and refuse to provide abortions without penalty.
“For example, in the public University of Rome, we have more than 60 doctors but only two provide abortion,” noted Silvana Agatone, a gynecologist who practices in Rome. “In 2005, the percentage of gynecologists that didn’t provide abortions was about 59 percent. Now [it is] 70 percent. And it’s growing every year.”
Nurses and anesthesiologists may also obtain conscientious objector status: In some regions of Italy, 90 percent of all care providers refuse to terminate pregnancies. Thus, many women who seek abortions at public hospitals cannot find any physician willing to end the life of their unborn children.
Agatone believes Italy’s pro-life movement has burgeoned because conservative political factions, such as the League and the Five Star Movement, have enjoyed recent success. Both the League and the Five Star Movement seek an outright ban on abortions.
Given the public’s support for pro-life measures, the ban may someday receive significant support in Parliament.