Nearly one year after Dobbs, half the country now bans abortions by 12 weeks

Daily Caller News Foundation

  • Half the country has enacted pro-life legislation to restrict abortion less than a month before the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. 
  • Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America Vice President of the State of Affairs Stephen Billy told reporters during a press conference this week that rough estimates found roughly 60,000 abortions had been prevented in the past 11 months and if all 25 state’s legislation were to go into full effect, roughly 200,000 would be stopped per year.
  • “The momentum for protecting life is for early limits, which reflects what we are seeing across the country,” Students For Life Vice President of Political Affairs and State Operations Dustin Curtis told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Only weeks ahead of the first anniversary of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, half of the country is set to impose restrictions on abortions after 12 weeks or sooner.

While many states had abortion laws on the books before the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, they were unable to enforce them or pass new legislation due to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. Since the Dobbs ruling, 25 states now have laws restricting abortions after 12 weeks or sooner, with 14 of them banning abortion completely or with extremely limited exceptions, and eight are awaiting verdicts from courts before enforcing the laws after protests from pro-abortion groups, according to The New York Times.

Students For Life (SFL) Vice President of Political Affairs and State Operations Dustin Curtis told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the movement has been focused on first-trimester abortion legislation in the states over the past year and with real success, but there is more to do.

“The momentum for protecting life is for early limits, which reflects what we are seeing across the country,” Curtis said. “With more than 9 in 10 abortions taking place by 12 weeks (3 months) limiting abortion after that point changes almost nothing.

During a press conference earlier this week, Susan B. Anthony (SBA) Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser touted the results of the past year and chastised those on the other side pushing for no limits on abortion.

“Literally half of the country has acted to protect unborn children and also to serve their mothers, while the left again has battled [against] every single step, every single inch, and against every single limit, no matter the gestational age of the unborn child,” Dannenfelser said. “This is what it looks like when democracy starts to get to work on such a profound human rights battle and the one of our time.”

Abortions in these states have dropped significantly, according to recent data. WeCount, a pro-choice research group, released a report that found from July 2022 to December 2022, abortions fell by 32,260 in states with active abortion restrictions. On the other hand, pro-abortion states such as New York, Virginia and New Jersey saw a slight increase in abortions per month following the Supreme Court’s decision.

During Wednesday’s press conference, SBA Vice President of the State of Affairs Stephen Billy told reporters that rough estimates showed in the 11 months since Dobbs, roughly 60,000 abortions had been prevented and if legislation were to go into full effect in all 25 states, roughly 200,000 would be stopped per year. Several states have had their bans blocked by judges; Indiana, for example, is awaiting a ruling from a court after The Satanic Temple filed a lawsuit to prevent the restrictions from going into effect.

LiveAction Vice President of Communications Noah Brandt told the DCNF that it will be important for pro-lifers to be on the front lines in purple areas.

“I think a lot of these more purple states have a lot of potential, states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania … other states in the Midwest, especially in Kansas, “Brandt said. “The biggest thing that’s holding Kansas up from passing pro-life laws is [due to] their state supreme court finding a totally false right to abortion in their state constitution.”

Brandt pointed out that groups like Planned Parenthood are targeting Ohio and Missouri with ballot initiatives to overrule pro-life laws in the state and that these would be key areas for abortion activists in the upcoming 2024 election cycle. Dannenfelser also warned against pro-lifers getting complacent Wednesday and losing the ground they had made in Ohio if they didn’t fight the ballot initiatives.

Despite the gains made by the pro-life movement, polls have shown many Americans are still hesitant to place heavy restrictions on abortion access, with one in April finding that 60% of Americans indicated they would not support a ban on chemical abortions or the abortion pill. Curtis told the DCNF, however, that polls are “only as good or bad as the questions asked” and many mainstream groups don’t “spell out the reality of abortion or even ask a follow-up question.”

“Our own YouGov poll shows that Gen Z and Gen Y registered voters want limits on abortion, and more than 9 in 10 opposed the No Test, Online Distribution of Chemical Abortion Pills that the Biden Administration set up,” Curtis said.

In January, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lifted restrictions to access the chemical abortion pill mifepristone, allowing patients to obtain the drug without a doctor’s consent at certain pharmacies that complete a short application process. Currently, the FDA is at the center of a lawsuit after multiple medical professionals argued that the drug is dangerous to women and accused the agency of “eliminat[ing] necessary safeguards” to try to hasten its approval.

Looking forward beyond the Dobbs decision, groups like Live Action and SFL are setting new goals to get states with partial pro-life laws to full abortion bans.

“In states such as North Carolina and Nebraska, SFLAction will certainly be returning to improve the 12-week bills passed this session,” Curtis explained. “We’ll be working for ‘Life at Conception in these states, but also hope to see more protections for the pre-born in target areas such as New Hampshire, Virginia, Iowa, and Maine among others.”

“[E]ven though six weeks is a huge step in the right direction … a human person comes to existence at the moment of fertilization and to kill that human person is no more justifiable than killing a human person at six weeks old, twelve weeks old, a toddler or an elderly person,” Brandt told the DCNF. “So we should be encouraging the states to go all the way and fully ban abortion.”

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