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Pro-Life Progress Two Years after Dobbs

by | Jun 26, 2024

By Michael J. New

Monday marked the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. Indeed, it was only two years ago when pro-lifers were finally able to celebrate the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Much of the mainstream media coverage surrounding the Dobbs anniversary has centered on purported increases in the number of abortions performed and on high numbers of women who have traveled to other states to obtain abortions. However, today, pro-lifers should celebrate. Despite some setbacks, we have made considerable progress during the past two years.

First and foremost, preborn children are being legally protected in many states. Currently 14 states effectively protect all preborn children. Three other states — Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina — have heartbeat laws in place that protect preborn children after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which usually occurs at around six weeks’ gestation. Four other states have a later gestational age limit in place that would have been previously stuck down by the Supreme Court.

Contrary to some mainstream-media spin, these laws are saving lives. I often tell pro-life audiences that in a post-Dobbs era, abortions are difficult to count. That is because abortion-minded women can circumvent pro-life laws by obtaining abortions in other states or receiving chemical abortion pills through the mail. However, I also remind pro-life audiences that babies are easy to count. Indeed, multiple analyses of birth data provide powerful statistical evidence that recently enacted pro-life laws are saving thousands of lives.

Indeed, three separate studies of Texas birth data have shown that the Texas Heartbeat Act, which took effect in September 2021, saved over 1,000 lives every month. A study from the Institute for Economic analysis compared birth data from 13 states with strong pro-life laws to birth data from 24 states and Washington, D.C., with permissive abortion policies. They found that pro-life laws saved 32,000 lives in the first six months of 2023. In my own analysis of CDC birth data from 2023, I also found that recently enacted pro-life laws had saved tens of thousands of lives.

The media are also failing to report that since Dobbs many states have enacted policy changes to assist pregnant women and new mothers. In 2021 only six states offered Medicaid coverage for one year postpartum. Now 48 states either currently do so or have an implementation plan in place. The Ethics and Public Policy Center analyzed 23 states that have enacted pro-life laws that would not have been possible under Roe. They found that 14 states expanded programs that offer material assistance to pregnant women, 13 states expanded safety net services, and eleven states expanded health care coverage for women.

Furthermore, many states have been creative in their efforts to assist women in need. Texas appropriated over $140 million to its Thriving Texas families program. Florida enacted a sales-tax exemption for many items for newborns. Mississippi created a generous tax credit worth thousands of dollars for adoption expenses. Indiana amended child-support regulations to require that fathers pay for at least 50 percent of expenses associated with the mother’s pregnancy and childbirth. Starting in August, Tennessee will cover the cost of 100 diapers a month for Medicaid recipients with children under two years of age.

During the past two years the pro-life movement has certainly suffered some political setbacks. Abortion is a more salient issue, and people who support legal abortion are more motivated and are more likely to support “pro-choice” candidates. That said, pro-lifers were never promised a smooth glide path to victory.  Indeed, we certainly have our work cut out for us in 2024 and beyond.

However, this week we should take heart. The pro-life laws that have taken effect during the past two years are saving thousands of lives. Furthermore, we are finding creative ways to help countless women, families, and children in need.

Editor’s note. Mr. New’s essay appeared at National Review Online and is reposted with his permission.

Categories: Dobbs