In the last seven days, an impressive number of Republican states have raced to send pro-life legislation over the finish line. Of course, the backdrop to these gains is the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Mississippi’s abortion law (expected in June) that could potentially overturn Roe v. Wade. Thanks to the bold leaders in Arizona, Oklahoma, Florida, and Kentucky, we’re witnessing a cultural shift that will have generational impact—regardless of what the justices decide.
Arizona’s Governor Takes Major Stride in Protecting the Unborn
On March 30, Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey (R) signed a bill that criminalizes abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. This bill, sponsored by state Senator Nancy Barto (R), also prohibits the prosecution of women who undergo an abortion.
Abortion businesses that breach this law, however, could face felony charges and lose their medical licenses. Physicians can carry out abortions past the 15-week mark only during medical emergencies. The bill does not allow exceptions for instances of sexual abuse.
In a letter, the Republican governor wrote, “In Arizona, we know there is immeasurable value in every life—including preborn life. I believe it is each state’s responsibility to protect them.”
In 2020, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported that 13,186 abortions were carried out in the state. Recent data reveals that 636 were after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Conservatives consider Senate Bill 1164 a victory for the unborn. However, abortion business advocates have condemned the legislation as part of a long-term effort to make abortion illegal in Arizona.
Senate Bill 1164 will become effective by late summer.
Making Oklahoma the Most Pro-Life State
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) promised his constituents that he would sign every pro-life bill that hit his desk. On April 12, the Republican lawmaker kept his word by signing Senate Bill 612 into law.
The bill makes it a felony for doctors in Oklahoma to carry out abortions with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. Similar to the recently passed bill in Arizona, Senate Bill 612 has no exemption for rape or incest. Women can only undergo abortions if the pregnancy is life-threatening.
This legislation passed both the state House and Senate and was approved by more than 80 percent of elected officials.
Earlier this week, Tony Perkins interviewed Stitt and asked him what political statement various GOP legislators are making by passing pro-life bills.
“The United States has some of the most egregious abortion laws in any of the civilized countries,” said Stitt. “For me, personally, standing for godly values, standing for what’s right, I’m more and more emboldened to represent the people of Oklahoma. Every state can do things a little bit differently, but I represent all four million Oklahomans and we overwhelmingly support life.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called Senate Bill 612 an attack on women’s rights and “one of the most extreme state laws signed into law to date.” But Stitt has declared he is committed to making Oklahoma “the most pro-life state in the country.”
Florida Legislators Stand up for the Defenseless
“We are here today to defend those who can’t defend themselves,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) in a press conference on April 14, after signing pro-life legislation.
Similar to Arizona, House Bill 5 bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Previously, abortions in Florida were allowed until 24 weeks of pregnancy.
This law applies even in cases of rape, incest, or human trafficking. This sparked debate in the state Senate, with Democrats strongly objecting and sharing stories of women who decided to undergo an abortion after enduring trauma.
There are only two exemptions to the 15-week ban of abortions. House Bill 5 does not come into effect in instances where a pregnancy is a “serious risk” to the mother. Furthermore, this legislation does not apply in cases where fatal fetal abnormality is detected. A written confirmation from two physicians is required.
“Life is a sacred gift worthy of our protection,” DeSantis said in a statement. “I am proud to sign this great piece of legislation which represents the most significant protections for life in the state’s modern history.”
In March, when this bill passed the state Senate 23-15, President Joe Biden called it “a dangerous bill that will severely restrict women’s access to reproductive health care.”
Florida has the third highest rate of abortions in the country with 18.5 abortions per 1,000 women. In 2019, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventions reports that 71,914 abortions were carried out in the state. Once this law goes into effect in June, abortions are expected to decrease drastically.
Kentucky’s Battle to Preserve Life
In Kentucky, unlike the Arizona, Florida, and Oklahoma legislatures, the path to passing pro-life legislation was not easy. Democratic Governor Andy Beshear vetoed House Bill 3, faulting the bill for excluding exemptions for rape and incest.
The governor wrote, “Under House Bill 3, a 12-year-old child that is raped and impregnated by her father would not have the option of a procedure without both the consent of her mother and without also notifying her rapist—her father—at least 48 hours prior to obtaining a procedure.”
On April 13, Kentucky’s Republican-dominated state House and Senate voted to override Gov. Beshear’s veto. The results were 76-21 in the House, and the Senate concurred with a vote of 31-6.
Kentucky’s House Bill 3 echoes Oklahoma law by banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions for the life of the mother. This measure also requires additional reporting requirements for medication abortions. It stipulates that abortion businesses must work with a funeral home to bury or cremate the fetal remains.
Since the bill has an emergency clause, the law is effective immediately. Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union announced they will be filing lawsuits in Kentucky federal court.