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States on the move since Dobbs overturned Roe

by | Aug 11, 2023

By Liberty Counsel

Editor’s note. This appears in the August issue of National Right to Life News. Please share this with pro-life family and friends. Send any comments you have to me at daveandrusko@gmail.com

When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey on June 24, 2022, it placed all policymaking on abortion in the hands of the people and their elected representatives. By determining there was no constitutional right to an abortion, the High Court did not make abortion illegal, but rather shifted the issue from the federal level to the state level. The decision opens the door for states to interpret what protections exist within their own constitutions and gives state legislatures the opportunity to enact laws protecting unborn life.

At least six state supreme courts have examined their respective state constitutions regarding abortion laws since Roe’s reversal. The Idaho and Indiana High Courts both ruled their constitutions do not protect abortion rights clearing the way for near-total abortion bans to take effect.

In addition, the High Courts of Kentucky and Oklahoma have also let near-total abortion bans go into effect. However, the Montana and South Carolina Supreme Courts ruled their state constitutions do protect abortion under the right to privacy. Liberty Counsel had filed amicus briefs in four of those states defending pro-life laws and achieved favorable results in Indiana, Kentucky, and Oklahoma.

Many states anticipated the overturning of Roe and moved quickly to enact abortion bans or reinstate older abortion laws previously struck down by Roe. Since June 2022, at least 18 states have enacted near-total abortion bans (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Wisconsin). Additionally, at least six other states have passed “fetal heartbeat” laws banning abortion at six weeks of pregnancy when a baby’s heartbeat is typically detectable (Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Mississippi, Ohio, and South Carolina).

However, at least eight of these state laws are facing legal challenges by pro-abortion groups and have been temporarily blocked by the courts. The near total bans in Arizona, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, and the “fetal heartbeat” laws in Florida, Iowa, Ohio, and South Carolina are all on hold while the legal challenges are reviewed. The South Carolina Supreme Court struck down a previous “fetal heartbeat” law on January 5, 2023.

Liberty Counsel has filed amicus briefs in Arizona and Florida advocating the courts uphold these abortion laws in those states. The briefs state, “Abortion is the modern-day offspring of eugenics. Margaret Sanger and the early abortion movement promoted abortion to reduce populations they considered lesser than White or fully able Americans…Now, the abortion industry denies that all human beings have inherent value and dignity bestowed on them by their Creator, and has indisputably targeted Black, Hispanic, and disabled communities for reduction.”

In Arizona, Liberty Counsel filed in defense of reinstating the state’s 159-year-old abortion law to protect unborn minority and disabled children from social eugenic policies. In Florida, Liberty Counsel filed in defense of Florida’s 15-week abortion ban since the Florida Constitution affirms “the right to enjoy and defend life” regardless of “race, religion, national origin, or physical disability.”

The brief further states abortion is in direct conflict with both states’ constitutional guarantee of the right to life. Liberty Counsel has filed amicus briefs in six states exposing the dark history of abortion – Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.

The abortion fight also may come to the ballot box in several states. In July 2023, petitioners in Ohio submitted nearly a half a million signatures surpassing the minimum requirement to put a state constitutional amendment on the ballot this November. The proposed amendment, “The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety,” would allow the people of Ohio to vote whether or not to enshrine abortion rights into the state’s constitution. Currently, Ohio only requires a simple majority vote to amend its constitution. However, the Ohio legislature has set a special election for August 8, 2023, to raise the voting threshold for amending the state constitution to a 60 percent majority.

In Florida, several pro-abortion groups have proposed a similar amendment to the state’s constitution. Like Ohio’s amendment, Florida’s “Amendment to Limit Government Interference with Abortion” would allow the state to regulate abortion only after “fetal viability” (about 24 weeks).  The proposal must have at least 891,523 valid petition signatures filed with the state by February 1, 2024, to be put on the state’s ballot for voters to decide.

Pro-life advocates in Florida are organizing to form a coalition to challenge the proposed amendment at the appropriate time.

The National Right to Life Committee states more than 63,000,000 babies have been aborted since the Roe ruling in 1973. According to a 2011 study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, “Abortion and mental health: Quantitative synthesis and analysis of research published 1995-2009,” 81 percent of women who had an abortion suffered increased risk for mental health problems as compared to women who carried their babies to term. The study also found a 37 percent higher rate of depression, 35 percent higher rate of suicide, and 34 percent higher rate of anxiety in women who had an abortion.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The overturning of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey was a great victory, but the fight to protect unborn life is far from over. The battle for life is now in every state where everyone can get involved by engaging your elected representatives, voting pro-life, and speaking up for the unborn within your sphere of influence. Abortion has wrought nothing but carnage and death for more than 63 million children and harms women physically and psychologically. It is time for the womb to be a safe place again.”

Categories: Pro-Lifers