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2013: Another Blockbuster Year For Life-Affirming Legislation

2013: Another Blockbuster Year For Life-Affirming Legislation

Life-affirming legislation designed to protect women from the harms inherent in abortion garnered increasing attention and support from legislators and the American public this year. In 2013, 48 states considered approximately 360 measures related to abortion, most of which sought to protect women and their unborn children from a predatory abortion industry which, as the Kermit Gosnell case aptly demonstrates, places concerns for profit over women's health and safety.

Of those considered, 69 provisions were enacted. This continued a trend that began in 2011 when 70 life-affirming measures were enacted, and 2012, when 38 such measures were passed - a large number for an election year.

But perhaps the best measure of legislative accomplishments this year comes not by way of numbers, but in the fear and consternation such legislation engendered among abortion advocates and their allies.

For example, abortion advocates appear particularly dismayed with recent legislative efforts to enact laws prohibiting abortion after five months of pregnancy. The reality is that a woman seeking an abortion at 20 weeks is 35 times more likely to die from abortion than she is in the first trimester. At 21 weeks or more, she is 91 times more likely to die from abortion than she is in the first trimester. Legislative efforts to limit abortion after this point directly protect maternal health.

Even the liberal Huffington Post admitted that Americans overwhelmingly support limitations on such late-term abortions. But abortion advocates oppose banning late-term abortion as well as laws requiring that women be informed of the health risks they face from abortion. Such a stance reveals that abortion advocates are neither "pro-woman" nor "pro-choice."

The abortion industry's reaction to chemical abortion regulations also reveals its commitment not to women's health, but to advancing its abortion-on-demand agenda. In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported over 2,200 complications after women used abortion-inducing drugs (RU-486). Among those were eight deaths caused by severe bacterial infection-and in each of those eight cases, the woman used the chemical abortion drugs in a manner not approved by the FDA. On the other hand, the FDA has received no reports of women dying of bacterial infection following administration of the drugs according to the manner approved by the FDA.

With these deaths in mind, it only makes sense for state legislatures to impose regulations on chemical abortion that require physicians to administer the drugs only in a manner approved by the FDA. Such laws would not ban chemical abortion, but would ensure that the drugs are administered only in the way that the FDA has deemed safest at this time.

But instead of supporting commonsense regulation of chemical abortion, abortion providers immediately challenge such regulations in court. But federal courts-such as the Fifth and Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeals-are properly applying U.S. Supreme Court precedent, particularly the Court's continued stance that states have an interest in protecting maternal health from the outset of pregnancy, and are concluding that regulating chemical abortion does not impose any kind of "undue burden" on a woman.

As the legislation sessions in 2011, 2012, and 2013 demonstrate, the increasingly litigious nature of the abortion industry is not discouraging the enactment of pro-life legislation. But the reaction from the abortion industry does indicate that we have hit a nerve. The more aggressively the abortion lobby fights against commonsense legislation aimed at protecting maternal health, the more we know we are winning.

As we move into 2014, states should be encouraged to continue enacting legislation that is aimed at protecting the health of the woman considering abortion, such as regulations of abortion clinics and chemical abortion. To that end, AUL has introduced its Women's Protection Project to highlight abortion's negative impact on women and to recommend specific legislative solutions to the growing concerns regarding the health risks to women from abortion.

The evidence of abortion's devastating harms to women is overwhelming and supports state legislation aimed at protecting maternal health. Consider this partial list risks associated with abortion:

• Short-term risks include blood loss, blood clots, incomplete abortion, infections such as pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical lacerations and other injuries to organs.

• Premature birth: At least 130 studies have shown an increased risk of subsequent premature birth and low birth-weight infants after abortion. The increased risk of these devastating complications is estimated to be approximately 37 percent after one abortion, 90 percent after two abortions, and further increased risk for each additional abortion.

• Mental health: A 2011 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry examined 22 studies conducted from 1995 to 2009 and found that women face an 81 percent increased risk of mental health problems following abortion. Women experienced increased risks for anxiety at 34 percent, for depression at 37 percent, for alcohol abuse at 110 percent, and for suicide at 155 percent.

• Maternal mortality: Abortion advocates wrongly assert that abortion is safer than childbirth. Many studies show the opposite, including one that found maternal death to be three times more likely from abortion than from childbirth.

With both the law and the facts on our side, the life-affirming legislative trends of 2011-2013 appear to have staying power, and Big Abortion is on the defense.

Mailee Smith is an attorney with Americans United for Life,

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