With the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization quickly approaching, legislators in pro-abortion states are bracing themselves for the possibility that Roe v. Wade’s reign over state abortion laws might finally come to an end, returning to the states the ability to regulate abortion as they see fit and more fully protect unborn life.
Not surprisingly, it is the states with the most pro-abortion laws that are leading the effort to enshrine “abortion rights” language in their state codes or constitutions. Colorado is swiftly moving HB22-1279, the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA), through the legislature, which would not only insert a “fundamental right” to abortion in state statute, but also explicitly deny unborn children any rights under the state (this includes all unborn children, regardless of gestational age).
Maryland (HB 1171) and Vermont (PR 5) are attempting to enshrine a right to abortion in their state constitutions, ensuring that, through future changes in the legislature and governorship, this “right” will remain in the constitution and be difficult to remove. If either of these states are successful, they will become the first to secure a “right to abortion” in their state constitution. If Maryland’s bill passes the Senate, it will go before voters in the state’s November 2022 election. After passing the legislature in February, Vermont’s Proposition 5 is already set to be on the ballot this November.
Additionally, pro-abortion activists in the state of Michigan have launched the Michigan Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative as an effort to get a constitutional amendment ensuring a right to abortion on voter’s ballots this November. Similar to the language of Maryland’s proposed amendment, it establishes a “fundamental right to reproductive freedom,” which shall not be “denied, burdened, or infringed unless justified by a compelling state interest achieved by the least restrictive means.” This amendment would supersede a pre-Roe abortion ban, enacted in 1931, which has been unenforceable due to Roe. In order to get on the ballot, this measure needs to gain 425,059 signatures (equal to 10% of votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election). It remains to be seen whether this measure will be on the ballot this year for Michigan voters.
These laws stand to be alarmingly far-reaching, invalidating what few pro-life laws these states have and cementing their current practice of actively funding abortion. Colorado, Maryland, and Vermont’s amendments would guarantee abortion through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason, going far beyond Roe’s precedent of guaranteeing abortion to the point of viability (Michigan’s amendment allows abortion up to the point of viability). Each one of these laws would not only allow but defend abortions sought solely due to the race, sex, or disability of the unborn child.
In Colorado, some legislators and constituents are cautioning that the RHEA, as currently written, would prevent the state from enforcing its parental notification law for minors seeking abortions. Maryland Right to Life has pointed out that the state’s proposed constitutional amendment would force physicians to carry out abortions against their consciences and religious convictions. After all, if something is a “fundamental right,” can it rightly be denied without the government stepping in to intervene?
Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, and Vermont are each seeking to become abortion destinations in the aftermath of Roe, where women from pro-life states can travel and abortionists can kill their unborn children. As troubling as this is, thankfully, even more states are poised to do just the opposite. Twenty-two states have laws (whether enacted before Roe and never repealed or designed to go into effect in the event Roe is overturned) to protect the unborn at conception or at the point his or her heartbeat can be detected (usually around 6-8 weeks), and others are currently moving to enact legislation to protect more unborn babies. Let these states stand out as a contrast to the states working so hard to maintain their cultures of death. The battle surely rages on, but there is hope in the midst of the darkness.
If you are a pro-lifer living in one of these pro-abortion states, please be encouraged. In Psalm 4:12, David reminds himself of God’s justice and care for the helpless, saying, “I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy.”
If you live in Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, or Vermont, contact your legislators voicing your opposition and vote NO if one of these measures is on your ballot this November. Your voice matters!
For Marylanders, click here to send a message to your state Senators, telling them to oppose HB 1171!
For Coloradans, click here to send a message to your state Senator, telling them to oppose HB22-1279!
Originally published at the Family Research Council.
Chantel Hoyt is a state and local research assistant at the Family Research Center.