In the decades long debate over abortion in the United States, a statistic coming from a pro-choice organization may indicate that the pro-life side is on the offensive.
According to a report from the Center for Reproductive Rights, thus far in 2011 an estimated 600 pieces of legislation that would restrict abortion access have been introduced in state legislatures.
Proposed legislation tracked by the CRR includes measures to expand waiting periods, mandated ultrasounds, and increased regulation of abortion facilities.
“Not only are these laws throwing road blocks in front of the abortion industry, but they help raise public awareness of abortion. So even when measures lose, or are blocked by the courts, the pro-life cause advances,” said Eric J. Scheidler, executive director for the Pro-Life Action League, in an interview with The Christian Post.
Scheidler also said that he believed this large volume of pro-life legislation was coming because of the 2010 congressional elections bringing many conservatives to Congress and the “radical pro-abortion agenda” of President Barack Obama.
“Obama's policies have been a disaster from the pro-life perspective. That's fired people up, and they've turned to the states to try to fight back,” said Scheidler.
The report by CRR comes as various states consider adding “Personhood Amendments” to their constitutions via popular referendum.
These amendments seek to define life as beginning at the moment of fertilization. If enacted, these amendments would effectively outlaw abortion.
Mississippi’s Personhood Amendment, for example, will be on the state ballot next week as Amendment 26. It has the backing of the Mississippi Baptist Convention and both candidates for governor.
“America is becoming more and more pro-life. Young people see it as a human rights issue,” said Keith Ashley, communications specialist for Personhood USA, an organization that supports Personhood Amendments across the country, to The Christian Post.
“The advancement of science and medical technologies such as DNA mapping and ultrasounds have brought light to the truth – human life begins at conception and the preborn are fully human, fully alive, and deserving of equal rights.”
Quena D. González, director of State and Local Affairs for the Family Research Council, told CP that he also believed that the pro-life movement was advancing.
“Twenty-one states resisted the mandate for tax-payer funded coverage of abortion and abortifacients imposed by President Obama's health care law, through legislation and in the courts,” said González.
As pro-life organizations look with optimism at the trend, pro-choice groups are worried.
People for the American Way, a pro-choice progressive organization, is calling the rise of pro-life legislative pieces the Republican Party’s “War on Women.”
“Following the 2010 elections, more state legislatures have become hostile to choice,” said the PFAW in an extensive essay on their website.
“Along with the attacks on choice and women’s healthcare coming from the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, these new and dangerous laws emerging from the states put women’s healthcare and reproductive freedom at grave risk.”
Meanwhile, González highlighted, “It is in the states where real pro-life gains can be made.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights could not be reached for comment.