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States prepare for battles overs pro-life bills as 2020 election looms

Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 5:04 pm EST
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Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews

January 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – With the dawn of a new year as well as impending elections, state legislatures across America are gearing up for another year of abortion battles, with supporters and opponents alike preparing legislation of various kinds.

Two measures are pending before the Florida Legislature: SB 404, which requires written parental consent before a minor’s abortion, and SB 734, which bans abortions sought specifically on the basis of a diagnosis or suspicion that a child has Down syndrome.

“This is not a huge departure from current law," said Republican state Sen. Kelli Stargel of the parental consent measure. "Current law has notice — there are already processes in place that handle this, we’re just making the conversation a little bit stronger.” Both bills still have to make their way through the legislature, but if they pass they are likely to be signed into law by pro-life Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

In Iowa, pro-lifers seek to amend the Iowa Constitution with language specifying that the document “does not secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” The amendment comes in response to judicial rulings that have interfered with recent atttempts to enact pro-life legislation.

“We want to make sure that whatever we’re doing on life now is actually going to move us forward and not move us backward,” said Republican state Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver. “We have passed several pro-life bills the last couple years and what has happened is the court has come in and struck all of those down and then not only struck them down, the court has written a right to an abortion into our state constitution.”

Amending the state Constitution would be a multi-year process involving passage in Iowa’s general assembly twice, then ratification by the voters.

Kansas pro-lifers are making the case for a similar amendment to their own state Constitution, meant to correct a Kansas Supreme Court ruling from last April asserting a state-level “right” to abortion. Kansas constitutional amendments require a two-thirds vote in the legislature, but could then be put on the ballot as early as August or November.

“We’re really stuck here,” Kansans for Life director Mary Kay Culp told lawmakers at a recent hearing. “They always talk about U.S. constitutional crises – we’ve really got one here in the state of Kansas, because there is no other way to do it from our understanding.” Culp argued that the decision endangers all of the state’s current pro-life laws, which have been credited with cutting Kansas abortions in half.

In Massachusetts, Democrats are pushing the so-called ROE Act, which would allow for virtually unlimited late-term abortions (justified on vague “mental health” grounds), eliminate the state’s current parental-consent requirement, and repeal language language requiring that abortionists “take all reasonable steps (…) to preserve the life and health of the aborted child.”

The bill’s supporters frame it as a necessary precaution for the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court might repeal Roe v. Wade in the near future. It’s expected to clear the legislature, but despite supporting legal abortion, liberal Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has expressed reservations about doing away with parental consent.

Meanwhile, pro-lifers in Michigan and Nebraska are both pushing bans on the dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion procedure, more commonly known as dismemberment abortions because they function by tearing a preborn baby apart limb by limb. 

Abortion activists have long complained about the “dismemberment” label despite it accurately reflecting the description in the National Abortion Federation’s own instructional materials, and claim dismemberment abortions are the safest second-trimester procedure available (for the mother). Pro-lifers contend that abortionists actually prefer D&Es because they can fit more into their schedule, and therefore make more money.

In Ohio, Republicans support legislation that would fully recognize preborn humans as people in the state and ban all abortions by adding prenatal killing to the state’s existing murder statutes.

“The time for regulating evil and compromise is over,” Republican state Rep. Candice Keller has said. “The time has come to abolish abortion in its entirety and recognize that each individual has the inviolable and inalienable Right to Life. Only respect for life can be the foundation of a free society that supports peace, justice and integrity.”

Many of the above bills and similar measures are sure to face legal challenges if they become law, but some are also meant to provoke those very lawsuits, thereby creating test cases for the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe.

The survival of these laws will also depend on November’s state and federal elections, which will not only decide the majorities of state legislatures but decide whether President Donald Trump or one of his Democrat challengers will be filling new judicial vacancies over the next four years.


  2020 elections, abortion, dismemberment abortion ban, down syndrome abortion ban, florida, iowa, kansas, massachusetts, michigan, nebraska, ohio, pro-life laws, state constitutional amendment

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