Photo: 13 new pro-life Republican governors replaced pro-abortion Democratic governors (in red). In two states retiring pro-life governors were replaced by pro-abortionists (in blue), making for a net gain of 11 pro-life governors.
November mid-term elections have energized legislators in several states to introduce legislation to limit abortions.
Among ideas being considered or already introduced:
-Bills that would ban most abortions 20 weeks after conception. Many states already have restrictions on late term abortions, typically defined as 22 to 26 weeks after conception. But last year, Nebraska set what many advocates consider a new gold standard, banning abortions, unless there is imminent danger to the woman’s life or physical health, at 20 weeks after conception, on the theory that the fetus can feel pain at that point. Similar measures pushing back the permissible timing for an abortion are being developed in Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and other states.
-Bills to make it mandatory that woman considering abortions view a live ultrasound of the fetus.
While several states encourage women seeking abortions to view an ultrasound, Oklahoma last year adopted a requirement that doctors or technicians perform the procedure with the screen visible to the woman, and explain in detail what she is seeing. The state of Kentucky Senate has passed a similar bill, and similar legislation is expected to come up in states including Indiana, Maryland, Montana, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming.
In Florida, former Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed an ultrasound bill. The new governor, Rick Scott, attacked him for that veto and is expected to support a new proposal.
-Bills that would end insurance coverage. Numerous states are preparing legislation that would not allow abortions in insurance plans that will be offered to small businesses and individual insurance buyers under the Obama administration health plan.
Pro-life advocates are concerned over the new trend. “We’re facing the biggest threat to reproductive rights we’ve ever faced in this state,” said Lisa Subeck, executive director for Naral Pro-Choice Wisconsin.
“I call on the Legislature to bring to my desk legislation that protects the unborn, establishing a culture of life in Kansas,” Gov. Sam Brownback said last week in his first State of the State message.
“This is the best climate for passing pro-life laws in years,” said Michael Gonidakis, executive director of Ohio Right to Life, expressing the mood in many states. “We’ve got a pro-life governor and a brand new pro-life speaker. Our government now is pro-life from top to bottom.”
There has been a large shift in the politics at the state capital level. 29 Governors are now considered to be anti-abortion compared to 21 last year. Currently 15 states have both a legislature and a governor that are anti abortion, this compares with 10 last year.
The abortion rate in the United States, which had declined steadily since a 1981 peak of more than 29 abortions per 1,000 women, steadied between 2005 and 2008, at slightly under 20 abortions per 1,000 women, according to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute.