NRL News

An Update on State Legislation

by | Apr 18, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D.

Step by step, pro-lifers are making gains in the state legislatures, no small accomplishment in the face of a storm of resistance concocted by pro-abortion forces and blown out of proportion by sympathetic media outlets. A recent analysis by the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute–while misstating the number–accurately captured part (but not all) of the pro-life legislative offensive.

According to the Guttmacher Institute’s Rachel Benson Gold and Elizabeth Nash

“This year legislators are particularly focused on measures that require a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound; that limit access to medication abortion; and that prohibit abortion at a specific point in gestation. Legislators in several states–mirroring the debate at the national level–are also considering measures allowing employers to refuse to provide insurance coverage for contraceptive methods.”

Again, while wildly inflating the numbers (in order to make it seem as if pro-lifers accomplished little), Guttmacher was on to something.

Sensing an opening (the public knows very little about ultrasounds in the abortion context), pro-abortionists went into a frenzy over legislation to give women one last chance to see a picture of their child. Lost completely in the hysteria over “transvaginal ultrasounds” is that abortionists routinely use them to date the baby’s age and to be sure it is not an ectopic pregnancy which, were it burst, could take the mother’s life.

But an ultrasound law did pass in Virginia. Others were temporarily waylaid but will be reintroduced as pro-lifers continue to educate legislators that virtually every abortionist already uses ultrasound.

The “access to medication abortion” translated into English ”refers to the very dangerous practice of “webcam  abortions.” The abortionist is never in the room with the woman, dispensing the RU486 regimen of two drugs via a video conferencing system. As NRLC President Carol Tobias has said, these webcam abortions are “incredibly dangerous, the woman may bleed to death or come down with a life-threatening infection and the drugs don’t always work, prompting surgery.”

The best approach, favored by NRLC, is to require that the abortionist be in the same room as the patient. A telemedicine abortion ban was signed into law earlier this month in Wisconsin.

Laws to “prohibit abortion at a specific point in gestation” is an allusion largely but not exclusively to the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” Passed first in Nebraska in 2010, the laws are based on the medical fact that at least by 20 weeks after fertilization, an unborn child has the capacity to experience pain.

Babies who have reached that stage would be protected from abortion. In addition to Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Idaho have passed the NRLC-model bill. None of the enacted laws have faced any serious legal challenge to date.

Guttmacher also talked about state legislators “mirroring the debate at the national level.” This refers to the Obama health care law (ObamaCare), which beginning in 2014, will require States to operate and maintain a “health insurance exchange”–or the Federal government will set one up for them. 

Health insurance plans offering abortion coverage are allowed to participate in a state’s exchange and to receive federal subsidies unless the State legislature affirmatively opts-out of allowing plans that cover abortion (or unless a state already has a law preventing health insurance in the state from covering elective abortions, except by a separate rider.)  Specific language in the Obama health care law authorizes the states to ban abortion in the exchanges.

Legislators in South Dakota and Wisconsin have responded to this by passing laws to “opt-out” of abortion coverage in insurance policies offered through their ‘state’s “health insurance exchange.”

“It is never easy to pass prolife life legislation, and it is even harder during an election year,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation for National Right to Life Committee, “but we are very pleased with the progress we made this year.”

Your feedback is very important to improving National Right to Life News Today. Please send your comments to If you like, join those who are following me on Twitter at

Categories: Legislation