For the first time in the history of the United States, efforts are being carried out in several states to outlaw abortion as murder.
Sen. Joseph Silk filed one of the first such measures, Senate Bill 1118, in Oklahoma during the 2016 legislative session. He initially filed the bill as a measure that would ban abortion only after a heartbeat had been detected. However, after meeting with abolitionists and recognizing the inconsistency of saying that abortion is murder while allowing it in some circumstances, he rewrote his bill so as to outlaw abortion as murder in all circumstances. The Oklahoma State Senate, dominated by pro-life legislators, never allowed the bill to reach the floor for a vote.
Prior to SB 1118, hundreds of pro-life measures had been passed in various states, all seeking to ban certain methods of abortion, make abortion safer for women, or regulate the abortion industry in other ways. None of them, however, had sought to outlaw abortion as a capital crime without exceptions.
Ever since SB 1118 was killed by the pro-life Oklahoma State Senate, abolitionists across the country have been working in their own states to call legislators to repent of compromise and put forward measures that actually treat abortion as murder. Their efforts have already begun to bear fruit:
- In Texas, Rep. Tony Tinderholt filed House Bill 948, the Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act. This bill removes the exception to Texas penal code that currently allows the murder of preborn children by their parents or physicians. The bill also directs state officials to ignore any federal act, judgment, or order that purports to overrule HB 948.
- In Oklahoma, Sen. Silk filed another measure last month seeking to outlaw abortion as murder, Senate Bill 817. SB 817 is currently awaiting a second reading by the Health and Human Services Committee.
- In Missouri, Rep. Jeff Pogue introduced House Bill 1177, which accurately defines abortion as first degree murder and makes it punishable as such.
- In Indiana, House Bill 1134, the Protection from Conception Act, requires the state to protect all humans from intentional death starting at the point of conception, though it does not directly define abortion as first degree murder.
- In Idaho, abolitionists are circulating an initiative petition to abolish abortion as murder.
- Also in Idaho, Rep. Dan Foreman has introduced a bill that defines abortion as first-degree murder and make it punishable as such (the bill will not be assigned a bill number until it has been released from committee).
- In Wisconsin, abolitionists have drafted a bill outlawing abortion as murder that is slated to be introduced later this year.
- Abolish Abortion Florida is circulating a ballot initiative to amend the Florida Constitution to define abortion as murder.
- Abolish Abortion Ohio is circulating a ballot initiative to amend the Ohio Constitution to classify abortion as aggravated murder.
- Abolish Abortion Alaska is gathering signatures on a citizen-led petition to remove exceptions from Alaska statutes that currently allow preborn children to be murdered with their mothers’ consent.
- Abolish Abortion Pennsylvania is circulating an opinion petition to present to legislators, demanding total abolition.
Some believe that as this shift in legislative strategy takes place, it will become increasingly difficult for pro-life politicians to keep the votes of their constituents if they refuse to support or put forward measures that outlaw abortion as murder.
“From watching these legislators in committee and the way they talk about abortion, the legislative atmosphere even between last year and this year has changed dramatically,” said Rush Loftis, Legislative Assistant to Representative Mike Moon in Missouri. “Rather than asking ‘can we do this?’ they are starting to say things like ‘well the courts are wrong in Roe v. Wade!’… and I’m sure that will change even more between this year and next.”
Loftis said he believes these bills will greatly influence future legislative efforts. “I think the Republicans are going to be asking representatives and senators to deliver,” he said. “It’s been far too long.”
He credits abolitionist agitation in the culture for this shift. “I think what the abolitionists are doing, holding signs, going to high schools, showing pictures of what abortion is… I never saw that growing up.” According to Loftis, the combination of exposing the culture to the reality of abortion and the shift in legislative tactics that is taking place will be the turning point in the fight against legalized murder.
“I think the end of abortion is coming soon,” he said.