April 17, 2012 ( – We heard a lot about 2011 as the year for pro-life bills: last year, 127 bills passed at least one state chamber in a surge many pointed to as a watershed moment for state-level protections for the unborn. But has the momentum ebbed away in 2012?

Pro-life experts say that while technically there are fewer bills, the tide is still so high that the pro-abortion lobby has very little room to celebrate.

The Planned Parenthood-founded Guttmacher Institute released a nationwide analysis of pro-life laws shortly after Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed a law banning abortion after unborn children feel pain at 20 weeks’ gestation.

Guttmacher reported that, although there was a downswing in abortion legislation this year, abortion was still “in the crosshairs:” by their count, 75 pro-life laws have been approved by at least one state chamber this year, with nine having been enacted into law.

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According to Jeanneane Maxon of Americans United for Life, there are even more waiting in the wings this year, with 337 pro-life bills under consideration in 41 states.


Although that’s a 25% decrease over the last year, Maxon said that one reason for the slowdown is that several states are holding no sessions in the election year, and some are having budget-only sessions.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers continue pushing for regulations aimed at protecting the unborn that include abortion clinic regulations, stronger informed consent and ultrasound laws, and ending government funding of abortion insurance.

One noticeable change is an uptick in bills and resolutions in support of pregnancy resource centers: Maxon said that at least 19 states have pursued such support, likely in response to recent attacks on pregnancy centers by pro-abortion organizations. NARAL Pro-Choice America last May disclosed a national strategy to shutter pro-life pregnancy center through city gag ordinances.

Recent investigations into illegal abortion practices also appear to have borne fruit in 18 states considering enhanced regulations for abortion clinics, and four considering laws strengthening child sex abuse reporting laws.

In addition, at least 17 states have introduced abortion funding reductions, including California, New Hampshire, and New York – compared with only four weighing an increase in abortion funding.

And finally, the debate over conscience protections in healthcare has also made itself felt in state legislatures: 2012 has so far seen a 40 percent increase in conscience bills protecting healthcare providers in states. In New Hampshire and Alabama, two states without any such protections, comprehensive conscience protection bills are being considered.

Eight states have also issued resolutions urging the Obama administration to repeal the Health and Human Services mandate forcing religious employers to pay for drugs against their beliefs.

This story corrects a previous version regarding Guttmacher Institute’s relationship with Planned Parenthood.


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