NASHVILLE (BP)—As pro-life advocates marched on Washington Jan. 24, state legislatures had passed 58 abortion restrictions in 2019. But measures providing the most protection for the unborn are blocked in court.
Nearly half of the restrictions enacted in 2019, 25, would ban all or at least some abortions, Guttmacher Institute reported, setting the stage for Supreme Court challenges to Roe v. Wade 47 years after its passage.
The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to reverse the ruling, but is scheduled March 4 to hear arguments in June Medical Services v. Gee, a challenge to a 2016 Louisiana law requiring abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of the doctor’s clinic. Most recently, the court refused to hear an appeal regarding a Kentucky law requiring doctors to perform ultrasounds and show fetal images to patients before abortions. The law had already survived a lower court appeal and remains intact.
Seventeen states enacted protections for unborn children in 2019, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming.
Most protections passed in 2019 for the unborn, including legislation prohibiting abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected and an Alabama bill prohibiting abortions at all stages of pregnancy, are currently unenforceable because of court challenges. Lawsuits are blocking fetal heartbeat abortion bans in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio, Guttmacher said, with Louisiana’s ban contingent on the outcome of Mississippi’s court battle.
Most recently, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced plans Jan. 23 to introduce fetal heartbeat protections and other abortion restrictions.
Adversely, nine states protected or expanded abortion access, with Illinois, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont allowing abortions through the full gestation period, according to Guttmacher tracking. California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey and Nevada also expanded abortion rights, according to reports.
The Southern Baptist Convention has long advocated for the unborn, both through its Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and with resolutions. The SBC adopted its first pro-life resolution in 1980, after Southern Baptists began grassroots pro-life activism in opposition to Roe v. Wade.
SBC messengers have passed 52 pro-life resolutions addressing abortion in the past 40 years. Most recently, messengers to the 2019 SBC Annual Meeting in Birmingham adopted a resolution On Celebrating the Advancement Of Pro-Life Legislation In State Legislatures.
See Baptist Press’ story Friday spotlighting the ERLC’s most recent advocacy.