Although Roe and Casey worked to arbitrarily remove the right of states and citizens to prohibit abortion, states do have a legitimate interest in protecting the health of the woman and fetus throughout all nine months of pregnancy through abortion regulations.
As pro-life sentiment among the nation grows, along with it have come record numbers of pro-life bills being introduced at the state level. States are beginning to take seriously their legitimate interest in protecting the lives of all citizens from conception to death and are implementing common sense regulations on abortion practice that protect the lives and health of both mother and child. FRC has tracked over 130 pro-life measures enacted at the state level in 2011-2012.
Last week, I was privileged to travel to the great state of North Dakota with Dr. David Prentice, FRC resident bioethics expert, in order to testify on important pro-life legislation being introduced in the North Dakota legislature. Up for debate were quite a few pieces of pro-life legislation, including a personhood amendment to be placed on the ballot, a right to life act, a physician’s admitting privileges bill, and a heartbeat bill (this is not an exhaustive list). Testimony was lengthy and the opposition was out in full force.
In preparation for our testimony, Dr. Prentice and I carefully collected relevant statistics and legal information, all cited and documented, in order to present well-rounded factual testimony that would be helpful in the legislative consideration of these bills. What I observed time and again from the opposition testimony was the use of fear tactics and blatant disregard for facts. For example, instead of presenting actual statistics related to abortion and women’s health, legislators were regaled with vague references to equality and government intrusion. Meanwhile, the actual meaning of the text of the bills was misrepresented numerous times by the opposition in an attempt to confuse and scare legislators into voting against the bills. Thankfully, David and I, along with several other pro-life groups were able to allay many fears by presenting the facts.
I’m afraid that all too often these pro-life measures fail because opposition leaders are willing to say anything necessary to make sure the lives of unborn children remain unprotected and unfettered access to abortion remains intact despite life and health concerns for both baby and mother. To the great credit of the legislators in North Dakota, five out of the six pro-life bills presented were passed and will head to the opposite chambers for debate in March.
States are taking the lead on abortion regulation where the federal government has refused to act. It is important to know what the bills mean and to get the truth out to those around you and in the legislature. What we need are citizens who are dedicated to staying abreast of pro-life legislation being proposed in state legislatures and are willing to support such legislation through testimony, calls, letters, and visits to representatives. Your voice matters and may be the one voice of reason in a sea of confusion and misrepresentation.