While some prominent Republicans remain hesitant to take bold action on protecting unborn life, others in a few states are stepping up.
Here is an update on four pro-life states in particular that have been leading the charge to protect the most vulnerable human beings.
As of mid-March 2023, there are two active bills in the State Legislature which, if passed, would further restrict abortion in the Sunshine State from its present limit of fifteen weeks.
Earlier this month, Sen. Erin Grall, R-FL, proposed what is being called a “heartbeat bill,” similar to laws currently on the books in neighboring Georgia. Sen. Grall’s S.B. 300 expressly prohibits “performing or inducing a termination of pregnancy after the gestational age of the fetus is determined to be more than six weeks.” S.B. 300 would still provide exceptions for rape and incest.
H.B. 7, introduced on the same day in the State House, would prohibit the “use of state funds for [a woman] to travel to another state to receive services to support abortion.” Republicans currently control both houses of the Florida Legislature with a supermajority following the state’s “red wave” during the 2022 midterm elections.
In recent weeks, Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-FL, has expressed willingness to sign bills that further limit abortions in Florida, saying, “we welcome pro-life legislation.”
In late February, a similar heartbeat bill advanced out of committee in Nebraska’s unicameral legislature. Legislative Bill 626, or the “Nebraska Heartbeat Act,” would make it “unlawful for any physician to perform or induce an abortion … after determining that the unborn child has a detectable fetal heartbeat.” In addition to making exceptions for rape and incest, the law clearly defines “abortion” as applying only to interuterine (non-ectopic) pregnancies, and in cases where the child is still alive at the time of the procedure.
The law has yet to come to a vote and, if passed, would significantly improve upon Nebraska’s current 20-week gestational limit. Newly-elected Republican Gov. Jim Pillen, R-NE, is a practicing Catholic and ran on a pro-life platform.
On March 16, 2023, Gov. Spencer Cox, R-UT, signed H.B. 467, a bill that banned the operation of all abortion clinics in the state. As a result, it is now only legal for abortions in Utah to be conducted in hospitals. With regards to Utah’s remaining non-hospital abortion providers, the new law calls for their closure by the end of the year.
Despite being a conservative state with a Republican governor and vast GOP supermajorities in both houses of its legislature, Utah currently only protects unborn babies after 18 weeks gestation, due to liberal activist judges.
In Wyoming, the most Republican-voting state in the last presidential election, a pro-life bill has headed to the desk of Gov. Mark Gordon, R-WY. H.B. 152, nicknamed the “Life is a Human Right Act,” specifically defines the act of abortion as the “intentional termination of the life of an unborn baby.” Therefore, the bill clarifies that abortion is not a form of “healthcare,” as many pro-abortion activists claim. The bill goes on to state that “The [Wyoming] legislature, in the exercise of its constitutional duties and powers, has a fundamental duty to provide equal protection for all human lives, including unborn babies from conception.”
If passed, H.B. 152 would ban abortion following conception, albeit with several exceptions, including rape, incest, an unviable “fetal abnormality,” and to save the life of the mother. Like the Nebraska bill, this legislation also clarifies that procedures following ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages are not abortions. The bill would also make committing an abortion a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.
Wyoming had a trigger law in place that would have also almost completely banned abortions in the state had it gone into effect. However, it was blocked by an activist court in July 2022, allowing abortions in the state to continue.