Across the map, defenders of the unborn are seeing victory after victory in their state legislatures.
The Republican governor of Mississippi signed a bill today that will make his state one of the strongest protectors of the unborn. Governor Phil Bryant says he will sign Senate Bill 2116 – often described as a "heartbeat bill." The measure bans most abortions once a baby's heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks into pregnancy. The Center for Reproductive Rights says it plans to sue the state to block the bill from taking effect July 1.
Statement by Gov. Phil Bryant upon signing SB 2116:
"I'm proud to be here and proud to have been able to sign into law Senate Bill 2116 today. It prohibits abortion upon a detectable fetal heartbeat, except for medical emergencies that would threaten the life of the mother.
"We understand it's going to be challenged by the left; and their attorneys have been lined up, I'm sure, for weeks now with all the money they're able to raise to attack those of us who are defending the innocent life of an unborn child.
"We're willing to stand in that gap and take that type of criticism or pressure or whatever they want to bring, because of our strong and heartfelt belief that those innocent children need protection."
While the bill saves a baby's life, Jameson Taylor of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy says it also protects the health and safety of the mother.
"Roe v. Wade is old case law based on old science – and it's also dangerous case law," Taylor explains. "According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, the risk of a [woman] dying as a result of an abortion increases more than 2,100 percent beginning after eight weeks. Maternal mortality increases by 38 percent with every week after eight weeks' gestation."
SB 2116 passed the State Senate on Tuesday on a 34-15 vote, which was largely along party lines. It passed the State House earlier this month on a 78-37 vote.
"The heartbeat bill is going to advance the state's interests in protecting maternal health," Taylor adds.
The Magnolia State enacted a law last year to ban abortion after 15 weeks. That law was challenged in court by the only abortion clinic in the state, and a federal judge declared it unconstitutional. The state has asked a federal appeals court to overturn the ruling.
A bill similar to that in Mississippi is up for vote in the Georgia Senate. Republican Governor Brian Kemp says he will sign the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act (House Bill 481) if it gets through the Republican-controlled Senate.
Joshua Edmonds of Georgia Life Alliance, points out that over the past several years, Georgia has become a destination state for abortions.
"We clamped down on that back in 2012 when we restricted abortion after 20 weeks," Edmonds shares, "but we still have more than 25,000 abortions that take place in Georgia every year.
"… With our maternal health crisis that we're facing in our state, we believe that one of the best things we can do for women and children in Georgia is to restrict the access to abortion … to six weeks or earlier so that we have healthy mothers and healthy babies throughout our state," he tells OneNewsNow.
The Natural State has passed a law that the legislature hopes will end up at the nation's highest court. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) has signed a bill that bans abortions after 18 weeks into the pregnancy. Rose Mimms of Arkansas Right to Life points out that the U.S. Supreme Court – in its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion in the first trimester – said states could regulate abortion in the first and second trimesters.
"They did set viability, but as we know viability gets moved all the time as medical technology advances," Mimms notes, "and these infants, who are younger and younger, are surviving being born [as] early [as] 18, 19, 20 weeks."
The Arkansas bill goes into effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session and, as yet, has not been challenged legally – but Mimms believes that to be a certainty.
The objective, she explains, is to get the Supreme Court to take a look at the viability provision. "They will revisit it – and we're not the only state to pass an 18-week ban," she continues. "And yes, this is just another measure that will go before the Supreme Court eventually at some point and be decided; and hopefully we'll have the court that will protect life and want to say that this is okay."
There are also heartbeat bills that ban abortions at about 16 weeks and 15-week bans with decisions in federal district and appeals courts that will challenge the nation's high court to revisit the issue of viability.
Meanwhile, Kansas is letting the nation know how it feels on the life issue while taking steps to ensure the state remains pro-life. Both houses of the Kansas legislature passed resolutions condemning passage of New York's expansive abortion bill that legalizes abortion up-to-birth, removes conscience protections for medical professionals, lets non-doctors perform abortions, and permits minor girls to obtain them without parents being notified.
Mary Kay Culp of Kansans for Life explains that the resolutions were passed "to educate people that not all legislatures feel that way and … not give up hope." The Kansas legislature "just wanted the New York legislature to know that they disapprove of what they did and what a scandal it is," she adds.
According to the Kansas pro-lifer, her state was once pro-abortion – but turned the situation around by educating voters, then electing pro-life state officials. The problem now, she says, is the state's court system.
"The [abortion] proponents are saying that our 1859 State Constitution includes a right to abortion because it includes the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," Culp offers. "And they're using that 'right to liberty' [to pretend] that the state has this right to abortion and they're just ignoring the right to life."
To corral judicial activism on the life issue, members of the legislature are considering a constitutional amendment, which is doable but requires a laborious and time-consuming process.
In another pro-life victory, New Jersey is one step closer to driving an abortion clinic owner out of business.
Steven Chase Brigham saw his medical license in New Jersey revoked in 2014; it has been revoked in a total of five states. Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue tells OneNewsNow that Brigham's attorneys have since pursued appeals – but now the New Jersey Supreme Court has refused to hear the case.
"But it's not the end of the line for him in the abortion business," Sullenger laments, "because unfortunately he still continues to participate in the day-to-day managing of business affairs for about 12 abortion clinics on the East Coast."
New Jersey law requires the owner of an abortion clinic to be a licensed physician, so Brigham transferred ownership to his 82-year-old medical director, Vikram Kaji, who has also lost his medical license.
"We believe that's a rock-solid legal case for shutting down those New Jersey abortion clinics because of the way he used deception to try to make it look like he had divested himself of that business, when in fact he had not," Sullenger argues. That involved seven clinics in New Jersey.
Operation Rescue is hopeful other East Coast states where Brigham owns clinics will take note of his practices – and take appropriate action.