A month into 2022, state legislators are hard at work defending life, the family, and religious liberty. Family Research Council is currently tracking over 300 state-level bills that seek to do just that, and we hope more are on the way.
Many state leaders are not waiting for a U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization before introducing legislation to defund abortion businesses; uphold fetal dignity; and protect the unborn, women, and abortion survivors. So far, 13 bills have been introduced in seven (AL, AK, MI, MO, PA, VA, WI) states to defund the abortion industry. These bills are part of a long-standing effort consistent with the majority of Americans' views on the issue of taxpayer funding of abortion.
Upholding fetal dignity is proving to be a key focus for state legislators this year, as 46 bills have been introduced in 20 states (FL, HI, IA, IL, KY, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV). Fetal dignity laws take various approaches to ensuring that fetal remains are treated with respect. These laws might require the burial or cremation of unborn children after an abortion, prohibit the sale of or profit from baby body parts, prohibit the transfer of fetal remains, require the provision of death certificates for stillborn or miscarried babies, and/or provide income tax credits to the parents of stillborn or miscarried children. Bereavement bills, which provide parents of stillborn or miscarried babies a designated amount of bereavement leave to cope with their grief, are a recent development in fetal dignity laws. Half of all fetal dignity bills introduced so far this year are bereavement bills.
Maintaining the momentum from previous years, Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Acts continue to spread across the states. These bills ensure that infants who survive abortion receive the same standard of medical care that would be rendered to any other newborn. Twenty-nine of these bills have been introduced in 11 states (HI, IL, MN, MO, NC, NJ, NY, OR, RI, VA, WI) (including those carried over from 2021).
State legislators are continuing to make the prohibition of discriminatory abortions a priority by introducing Prenatal Nondiscrimination Acts (PRENDAs). These bills prohibit an abortion sought on account of an inherent characteristic or prenatal diagnosis of the unborn child. There are currently 24 of these bills active in 12 states (AZ, IL, MA, MI, NC, PA, SC, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV).
It is worth noting that Oklahoma and West Virginia have Total Abortion Bans carried over from 2021, while Iowa, Massachusetts, and West Virginia each have bills to outlaw or regulate chemical abortion active in their state legislatures (also carryover bills).
As for pro-family legislation, states are following Arkansas' lead from 2021 and moving to protect minors from life-altering gender transition procedures such as puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and irreversible surgeries. Arkansas is currently the only state to have passed such legislation, but other states could soon follow suit. So far, Arizona, Mississippi, Ohio, and Oklahoma have introduced very similar bills that not only prohibit the provision of gender transition procedures to minors but also bar insurance coverage and public funding of such procedures for minors. There are currently 29 of these bills active in 17 states (AL, AZ, FL, GA, IA, IN, KS, KY, MO, MS, NC, OH, OK, SC, TN, UT WV) -- and counting.
In a culture increasingly hostile to traditional Christian values, state legislators have felt the need to defend religious liberty. Arizona and New Jersey are the latest states to introduce Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs), which prohibit the government from substantially burdening religious exercise unless doing so furthers a compelling government interest and uses the least restrictive means possible. Iowa and West Virginia have active RFRAs that were carried over from 2021.
Three states (Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Iowa) currently have Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Acts (CWPIAs) moving in their legislatures. CWPIAs prevent government discrimination against faith-based adoption and foster care agencies. Massachusetts and Iowa legislators have also introduced Government Nondiscrimination Acts (GNDAs). Similar to CWPIAs, GNDAs prevent government entities from inflicting legal penalties on individuals on account of their religious beliefs, such as a belief in the biblical teachings on marriage and sexuality.
While this is a great start, even more of these bills are likely to be introduced in state legislatures in the coming months. For many states, it is still early in their legislative sessions. However, given states' legislative efforts so far, 2022 is shaping up to be a momentous year for family values around our country.
If you see your state listed above, please contact your state-level elected officials and tell them you support these bills. They need to hear from you!
**If you want to continue to support state efforts like these, please go to frcaction.org and sign up so you can stay informed on state bills going forward. At that page, you can also see information about allied state Family Policy Councils. You can also sign up for other FRC resources here.
*** On Sunday at 10:30 a.m., Tony Perkins will be preaching at North Hall Church in Gainesville, Georgia. For those in the area, you're invited to worship with him! The service will also be livestreamed on the church website and on Facebook.