One of the major consequences of the massive GOP victory in 2014 is the recharging of the anti-abortion movement and its pro-life legislation in state Houses across the country. The GOP won 11 legislative chambers previously held by Democrats, raising their total to 68 across the country, as opposed to 30 for Democrats.
The Wall Street Journal reported that pro-life advocates, galvanized by their success, are pushing forward with legislation that will more strongly protect the unborn. In Tennessee, where the November election resulted in voters passing an amendment that made the laws for abortion harsher, the GOP legislature will attempt to have women wait 48 hours before they can have an abortion, require women to have informed consent, and require regular checks of abortion clinics. Ron Ramsey, the Republican lieutenant governor of Tennessee, wants a state constitutional amendment to reverse the state Supreme Courts blocking of anti-abortion laws. He has said that “the most important priority” for the legislature is to follow through on the pro-life agenda.
Tennessee is not alone in its drive toward protecting the unborn; pro-life bills have been filed ahead of the state’s legislative sessions in at least ten states, according to a worried Elizabeth Nash, state-issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute. The Guttmacher Institute, which fights for abortion rights, also glumly noted that state legislatures have passed 231 pro-life bills in the past four years, more than in the prior ten years.
Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, was clearly delighted at the reinvigorated pro-life legislation. She said, “There’s a lot of opportunity out there right now.” She added that her group will fight for stronger restrictions for abortion-inducing drugs, stricter standards for abortion clinics, and legislation requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, which has prompted lawsuits across the nation and is also within a bill in Congress that Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) introduced.
Some bills state that personhood begins at fertilization, and some bills want ultrasounds required for pregnant women and a medical professional to show and explain the results. In South Carolina and West Virginia, the National Right to Life Committee will fight for an abortion ban after roughly 20 weeks of pregnancy, an idea echoed in the House of Representatives, where last week, Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) again introduced their 2013 bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Vitter joined the effort on Wednesday, submitting bills that would bar the government from giving Planned Parenthood family planning funds, ban abortions executed on the basis of gender, and allow hospitals, doctors, and nurses to refuse to take part in any abortions.
A proposal certain to outrage feminists comes from Missouri, where Republican state Rep. Rick Brattin initiated a bill that would insist pregnant women wanting an abortion obtain written consent from the father of the unborn bay. Predictably, Laura McQuade, president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, snapped, “This proposal is demeaning and degrading to women.”
Jennifer Dalven, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project, commented on the pro-life resurgence, saying, “We are definitely bracing for another round of attacks on women’s ability” to abort their child.