Ben Johnson

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‘Record number’ of pro-abortion laws being introduced dwarfed by pro-life gains, legal expert says

Ben Johnson
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February 24, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Abortion advocates at the Guttmacher Institute and other pro-abortion institutions say they are “fighting back,” introducing more legislation to expand access to abortion than in any year in recent memory. But pro-life advocates say that public opinion, and the tide of history, is turning decisively against abortion-on-demand.

Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, announced that more pro-abortion legislation has been introduced this year than anytime in the last 20 years.

So far, 14 states have introduced 51 pieces of legislation to expand and strengthen women's access to abortion, she said, up from 32 bills in six states in 2013.

Amanda Allen of the Center for Reproductive Rights told Bloomberg News that 2014 is a “tipping point” in American legislative history.

But “there is a significant difference between bills introduced and those enacted,” Denise Burke, vice president of legal affairs at Americans United for Life, told LifeSiteNews. “Last year, for example, more than 350 bills related to abortion were introduced in state legislatures,” but only about 20 percent became law, most of them pro-life.

The Guttmacher Institute told LifeSiteNews.com that, while dozens of new abortion-expanding bills had been offered, “thus far this year none have been enacted.”

“Last year two proactive bills in California were enacted,” Rebecca Wind, senior communications associate at the Guttmacher Institute, told LifeSiteNews.

Last October, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill allowing non-physicians – including midwives, nurse practitioners, and physicians’ assistants - to perform abortions during the first-trimester by suction aspiration. The same day, he signed a bill exempting abortion facilities from more stringent health codes required for other ambulatory surgical centers.

“Between 2010-2012, there was not much in the way of proactive legislation,” Wind told LifeSiteNews. “We have started to see much more in 2013 and 2014.”

On the other hand, more pro-life laws have become law in the last three years than in the previous decade combined. States passed 205 pro-life laws from 2011 to 2013, and only 189 between 2001 and 2010. The largest number, 82, passed in 2011.

Last year, governors signed 70 new laws that “sought to restrict access to abortion services,” according to the Guttmacher Institute. Much of that model legislation was crafted by AUL, often by Burke herself.

“Pro-life legislation is more in tune with the views of the vast majority of the American public who do not approve of the unlimited and unregulated abortion license sought by abortion advocacy groups,” she told LifeSiteNews.

Aside from California, pro-abortion laws have struggled to pass even in overwhelmingly liberal, Democrat-controlled states.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has reintroduced his “Women's Equality Act,” a 10-point proposal that would expand access to abortion after 24 weeks and open the door to allow non-physicians to perform abortions. Although the bill passed the state Assembly last year, a coalition of Republicans and Democrats blocked the abortion plank in the state Senate. The failed effort cost the Women's Equality Coalition $500,000.

Observers expect the bill to fare no better this year.

The Vermont state Senate passed a bill, S.317, repealing a decades-old statute making it illegal to perform or advertise abortion, but that law was ruled legally null in 1972.

Washington state House members passed the “Reproductive Parity Act,” requiring any insurance provider that covers prenatal services to also pay for abortions, this winter by a 54-44 vote. The same bill passed the House last year but died in the state Senate.

New Hampshire is expected to enact a law requiring pro-life protesters to stand outside a 25-foot buffer zone from an abortion facility. A similar law from neighboring Massachusetts is currently having its constitutionality tried before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Pending legislation in Virginia would repeal that state's ultrasound requirement, or allow for abortion coverage under the state's health insurance exchange. Lawmakers in Nebraska also seek to water down a parental notification law.

“There has seemed to be an increase in bills intended to 'undo' what has been accomplished by pro-life legislators and groups over the past few years,” Burke said, noting that many of them “have already failed.”

“We are not seeing an abortion industry on the 'offensive,'” Burke told LifeSiteNews, “but a scandal-ridden, self-interested industry on the ropes. It is not offering positive, pro-woman initiatives, but instead acting out of desperation to maintain its financial bottom-line and to ensure that the dirty truth about its operations does not see the light of day.”

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