Pro-life advocates from across the country will descend upon the nation’s capital to once again memorialize the more than 65 million lives lost because of the legal-abortion regime ushered in by Roe v. Wade.
Now, more than a year and a half after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturned Roe, states are publishing helpful reporting data showing how the Roe reversal has affected efforts to protect the unborn.
So far, 32 states have reported 424,242 legal abortions in 2022, an estimated decrease of 31,951 abortions from 2021. This sample includes a wide variety of state laws protecting life from conception, when a heartbeat is detected or after the first trimester.
On the flip side, other states passed new laws promoting abortion with taxpayer funding and creating other legal protections to make abortion even more accessible.
Unfortunately, some pro-abortion states that actively recruit women from out of state to obtain abortions, such as California, New Mexico, and New York have not yet reported 2022 totals. But others, such as Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, and Washington that neighbor pro-life states have reported, providing good insight into the impact out-of-state travel has on abortion totals.
The 2022 data shows an 8% decrease in the abortion rate in the 32 states. The abortion rate, which calculates how many women of reproductive age are getting abortions, would indicate that fewer women chose abortion in those states even with the option to travel out of state to get an abortion.
These preliminary findings track with a study from the Institute of Labor Economics that found states with pro-life laws saw an increase of 32,000 births due to the impact of those laws.
As expected, in every state that enforced a heartbeat or life-at-conception law, abortions went down. In every state that allowed abortion at 15 weeks or later, abortions increased, with Vermont—which allows abortions at any point in pregnancy—the only exception that saw abortion totals decrease.
Texas saw the single largest decrease in abortions at 33,572, with nine other states reporting a decrease of 1,500 abortions or more.
Despite Florida enforcing a 15-week limit since July 2022, abortions there increased by 2,700. That’s likely due to Alabama, Georgia, and other Southern states enforcing much more protective laws.
The weakness of the 15-week-limit law is what prompted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign the Heartbeat Protection Act in 2023.
Even though Kansas has a history of passing pro-life laws, it still allows abortions through 22 weeks and saw an increase of more than 4,000 abortions, driven largely by Oklahoma and Texas residents traveling to Kansas. Kansas demonstrates the direct impact a constitutional right to abortion can have on a state, prohibiting it from passing strong laws to protect the unborn.
Contrary to media narratives, the 2022 state reports also show how important pro-life laws are to protecting the health of both unborn children and their mothers.
Pennsylvania, which allows abortion through 24 weeks, reported 469 abortion complications, an increase of 45% from 2021. The majority of those complications were fetal tissue remaining in the uterus after an incomplete abortion, which is most common with chemical abortions.
Conversely, Arizona—which had a pro-life governor in 2022 seeking to enforce new pro-life laws after Roe v. Wade fell—saw a significant decrease in the number of abortions due to maternal medical conditions. Arizona also reported only eight abortion complications compared with the more than 400 reported in Pennsylvania.
Despite the welcome success of pro-life laws in reducing abortions in certain states, many hurdles stand in the way of pro-life laws effectively saving innocent unborn lives and protecting women’s health.
The primary obstacle is the lawlessness of the Biden administration and the support it receives from activist pro-abortion governors. The Biden administration is illegally performing abortions at Department of Veterans Affairs facilities in pro-life states and flying service members around the country to get elective abortions.
Pro-abortion states are also working overtime to publicly flout federal and state laws by mailing chemical abortion pills into pro-life states and providing legal cover for shady abortionists to do so.
Thankfully, there are two important cases pending at the U.S. Supreme Court that can address those issues. The first will determine whether the Food and Drug Administration is able to put politics above science and allow women to legally receive dangerous chemical abortion pills in the mail without ever seeing a physician for an ultrasound or health screening.
The other involves a case in which the Biden administration is attempting to use a decades-old law that simply requires hospitals to screen all patients presenting to an emergency room, to force pro-life states to perform unnecessary abortions. Fortunately, the law makes clear that both pregnant women and their unborn children are to be screened and thus cannot be used as a mandate on states to perform so called lifesaving abortions.
State-level abortion data proves that pro-life laws work, and the abortion industry is catching on. Now is the critical time to ensure that the promise of the Dobbs decision is fully realized, by enforcing existing federal laws that prohibit mail-order abortions.
While 2022 was the year we celebrated the overturning of Roe v. Wade, 2023 saw several more states pass and begin enforcing new pro-life legislation, and now 2024 will be the year of promoting the rule of law and good health care for both women and their unborn children.
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