What makes public policy life-empowering? And can you guess which states do it the best?

Pregnancy can be alarming. Absent support from their partner, their family, their friends, and the institutions around them, many women look at difficult circumstances and see no alternative to abortion. While pregnancy centers and many caring people in the community are eager to surround women and couples who are making pregnancy decisions with compassion, help, and hope, not everyone knows of these resources.

Sound public policy recognizes this as the tragedy that it is. Women are empowered to access full information about abortion and understand the support available when they choose life for themselves and their child. Abortion facilities are also required to meet minimum standards for health and safety, and oversight helps prevent the creation of more Gosnell-style clinics, that prioritize profits over patients.  

Click to tweet: What makes public policy life empowering? & can u guess which states do it best? http://hubs.ly/y0zy3c0

Today, Denise Burke shares what makes the top 5 states so effective at protecting women from abusive practices in the abortion industry.

AUL_deniseGuest Post by Denise M. Burke, Esq.

Forty-two years after Roe v. Wade, it is important to remember that we are making steady progress – state-by-state and law-by-law – toward a more pro-life America.  That progress is highlighted in Defending Life, the flagship publication of Americans United for Life (AUL) which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. 

AUL State Report Cards

The AUL State Report Cards, published annually in Defending Life, summarize and highlight existing state laws and detail advances both in the legislatures and in the courts that have been made over the last year.  Importantly, each report card also includes recommendations for each state, allowing citizens and lawmakers to readily assess each state’s progress and to develop a plan to further protect life in their individual states.  AUL has made specific recommendations as to what is needed, what are the best “next steps” toward a renewed culture of life, and what is realistic for each state to accomplish. 


AUL’s Life List

From its launch in 2006, the Life List, AUL’s annual ranking of the states, has easily been the most popular and anticipated part of each edition of Defending Life.  The goal of the ranking is to challenge and encourage pro-life states to continue to advance new and cutting-edge legal protections for life, while simultaneously encouraging states with more modest or even poor records on life to strive for better and more protective laws.  In ten years of ranking the states, Defending Life has spotlighted the accomplishments of consistently pro-life states such as Arkansas, Louisiana (which has topped the Life List since 2010), Oklahoma, and Texas and pointed out the legal dangers in the policies of anti-life states including California, New York, Oregon, and Vermont.

The annual ranking is based on each state’s current and enforceable laws related to abortion; protection of the unborn and newly born in contexts other than abortion (e.g., fetal homicide laws); emerging biotechnologies such as destructive embryo research; protection of those at the end of life; and healthcare freedom of conscience.  Abortion-related laws constitute 60 percent of the possible points and represent the largest area of the law that AUL examines in both Defending Life and the Life List.

AUL recently announced the 2015 Women’s Protection All-Stars: 5 states that made the most progress in 2014, legislatively and/or in litigation, in advancing the goals of AUL’s Women’s Protection Project, the legal “blueprint” for protecting women and their children from a largely unregulated, unrestricted, and unaccountable abortion industry, more concerned with increasing their profits than in safeguarding women’s health and safety”. The 2015 All Stars are: 

  • Oklahoma:  In 2014, Oklahoma enhanced its abortion clinic regulations and enacted an admitting privileges requirement, both of which are based on AUL model legislation.  It also enacted legislation supplementing a current law regulating abortion-inducing drugs and prohibiting “webcam abortions.”  Oklahoma is actively defending its admitting privileges requirement and abortion-inducing drugs law against lawsuits filed in state court by the abortion industry. 
  • Mississippi:  In 2014, Mississippi became the second state to enact AUL’s 20-week abortion limitation, the Women’s Health Defense Act.  The law is based on concerns for both maternal health and fetal pain.  With AUL’s assistance, it also enacted perinatal hospice information requirements.  In 2015, Mississippi became the new Life List #2. 
  • Arizona:  In 2014, Arizona enacted enhanced inspection requirements and enforcement options for its abortion-related laws.  It also enhanced its parental involvement law, enacting a prohibition on a third-party interfering with parental rights and assisting a minor in obtaining an abortion without the requisite parental consent. 
  • Texas:  In March 2014, Texas’ admitting privileges requirement and abortion-inducing drugs regulation were upheld by the 5th Circuit.  Texas continues to actively and successfully defend these requirements, along with a 2013 mandate that abortion clinics comply with the same health and safety standards as ambulatory surgical centers.   
  • Indiana: In 2014, Indiana strengthened its admitting privileges law and inspection requirements for abortion clinics.  It also enacted limits on insurance coverage for abortion.

Overall, states that do well in AUL’s Life List have endeavored to address the full spectrum of threats to life and are not content to rest on past accomplishments.  States topping the ranking have demonstrated a strong commitment to advancing innovative and cutting-edge legal protections for the most vulnerable in our society.

State Abortion Restrictions:  Protecting Women and Their Unborn Children

Abortion is always deadly for an unborn child””the Supreme Court has repeatedly acknowledged “abortion is inherently different from other medical procedures, because no other procedure involves the purposeful termination of a potential life.” However, a robust and growing body of evidence documents how dangerous abortion is to the mother’s physical and psychological health. 

Critical to many of AUL’s successes is our emphasis on protecting both women and their unborn children, most recently through our 2013 initiative, the Women’s Protection ProjectGiven the extensive health risks posed by abortion, which increase substantially with gestation, legislative and educational efforts to limit or prohibit abortions must detail the impact of abortion on both women and their unborn children. 

In the last four years alone, nearly 220 state laws protecting women and their unborn children from the dangers inherent in abortion have been enacted.  Nearly a third of these laws are based on AUL model legislation or were otherwise assisted by AUL. Defending Life is a prominent and effective tool in these efforts.

Denise M. Burke, Esq. is Vice President of Legal Affairs of Americans United for Life and editor-in-chief of Defending Life. This post is condensed from “AUL Empowers States to Defend Life,” which originally appeared in Care Net’s private online community for affiliates.