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.