As the battle over unborn life heats up across the nation, states are taking clear sides through legislation. Governors in Illinois, Maine, and Vermont signed bills into law last week that erase all legal protections for unborn babies in their states. Pro-life advocates call those measures extreme.
While most states have laws stipulating that only licensed physicians perform abortions, Maine Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, signed a bill last Monday that allows physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses to take the life of an unborn child in a mother’s womb. On Wednesday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, also a Democrat, signed what is known as the “Reproductive Health Act” in his state, which sweeps away all previous pro-life laws, establishes a “fundamental right” to abortion, removes nearly all regulation of abortion facilities, and requires insurance companies to cover abortions and contraception. And on Thursday, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, signed a bill barring all state government agencies from taking any measures to protect unborn babies.
Ingrid Duran, director of state legislation at National Right to Life, told me that the laws in these three states are all part of the same strategy. “This is a playbook by the abortion extremists to really undermine 20 years of pro-life gains in these states, where we have either partial-birth abortion bans, or reporting laws, or any kind of good pro-life common sense law,” she said, adding that the Illinois law is “just an unfettered right to abortion on demand.”
The new laws echo Delaware’s 2017 act, which allows abortion through all nine months of gestation, and New York’s own Reproductive Health Act, which in January erased pro-life laws and all legal rights for unborn babies. Democrats in Virginia introduced and then withdrew a similar bill in February. Rhode Island’s version is headed to the state Senate on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Maine also passed a law on Thursday that will force public and private insurance companies doing business in the state to cover abortion in their prenatal care packages. In another blow against the pro-life movement, the state also legalized assisted suicide on Wednesday, becoming the eighth state to do so.
Illinois’ 126-page law rolls back the state’s partial-birth abortion ban, a rule allowing courts to weigh the desires of a father to keep an unborn baby alive, and a regulation that ambulatory surgical centers must have a licensed physician on its board of directors in order to be licensed to perform abortions.
“The absurdity of stripping regulations and required licensure away from abortion facilities only helps the abortion business, not women,” said Patrina Mosley, director of life, culture, and women’s advocacy at the Family Research Council. “Nail salons and veterinary clinics will now get more regulation than places where you can legally kill your own child.”
Pro-life advocates worry that even more aggressive pro-abortion laws are on the way, and that could lead to more abortions, Duran noted.
These laws come after several states passed pro-life measures earlier this year. Last month, Alabama passed a swiftly challenged law that protected babies from abortion at any stage in pregnancy. Several more states have enacted laws requiring abortionists to tell women about a process to reverse the effects of abortion-inducing drugs, and others have passed “heartbeat” laws. And Indiana and North Dakota passed laws protecting the unborn from abortion by dismemberment.
Mosley also thinks that extreme abortion laws show the public how the pro-abortion movement really wants abortion affirmed as good, not just “safe, legal, and rare.” Similarly, Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s apparently pro-infanticide comments generated a firestorm and woke up “a lot of people to the pro-life issue,” she said. “What was meant for evil has actually turned around for good.”