GOP Legislators and “Right to Life” Organizations Work Against Various Abolition Efforts
Bills seeking the abolition of abortion in multiple states are encountering opposition from what some may consider to be surprising sources—pro-life organizations and legislators.
One of the first bills in United States history (and the first in Oklahoma) to propose banning all abortions without exceptions, Oklahoma Senate Bill 1118, was filed in 2016 but never received a hearing, as the pro-life-dominated Senate felt it was too extreme. Legislators opted instead to support SB 1552, a bill targeting medical licenses for abortion providers, which was ultimately vetoed by Governor Mary Fallin. In 2013, a bill that would have banned abortion as murder was filed in Iowa by Representative Tom Shaw, and similarly tabled by pro-life Republican leaders.
National Right to Life Vice President Tony Lauinger actively led the opposition to the bill, penning a letter in which he claimed the legislation would overturn previous pro-life laws. The letter specifically mentioned the “Heartbeat Informed Consent Act,” a bill that allows for the murder of children so long as their parents are fully aware of their actions, and the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which allows the killing of children prior to 20 weeks gestation.
Since the killing of SB 1118, similar bills have been filed in Indiana and Idaho, and have likewise faced strong opposition from members of the party that purports to be fighting abortion.
In Indiana, the Protection from Conception Act (HB 1134) was stalled before receiving a public hearing by Republican pro-life Representative Ben Smaltz, who according to the Indy Star cited vague concerns about constitutionality and the need for children to be killable in certain cases.
“I have deep philosophical concerns with government requiring women to carry their pregnancies to term in cases of rape, incest and especially when the mother’s life is in danger,” he said. Republican pro-life house speaker Brian Bosma likewise rejected the proposal on the grounds that it would “invite a lawsuit”.
Idaho Senator Dan Foreman is also proposing a bill that would abolish abortion as murder, which has been opposed by Idaho’s prominent pro-life organizations.
Right to Life Idaho has vocally opposed this effort, stating “Right to Life Idaho does not support any legislative action that would subject women to criminal penalties for an abortion.” They go on to state that subjecting women to criminal penalties for the murder of their children is inconsistent with the historical pro-life position.
Meanwhile prominent pro-life columnist Neal Larson of Idaho Falls said it would be better to wait for potential supreme court justices to be appointed, and for a case to “filter up” that would lead to the repeal of Roe v. Wade, “either giving states more flexibility to pass abortion restrictions or perhaps recognize a growing fetus as a Constitutionally-protected person.”
The primary objection to abolitionist bills voiced by pro-life leaders is that bills for abolition are unconstitutional and certain to be struck down by the Supreme Court. Pro-Life author Abby Johnson stated on social media that she could not support the Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act (HB 948) on these grounds. “We have made great strides in Texas by passing constitutional legislation that works,” Johnson said. “I also do not support any legislation that punishes women.”
It’s unclear what progress Johnson was referring to. When pressed, she conceded that the Constitution does not allow abortion, but still did not offer support to the bill.
Similarly, Texas Pro-Life Action Team refused to promote the bill, stating in a message to an inquirer, “Such a bill, if passed, is sure to be shot down by the Supreme Court, thus ensuring that abortion continues.”
The bill itself actually directs state officials to defy the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade and any other Federal laws that conflict with it. “This is the most constitutional bill filed this session,” said Arlington attorney Bradley Pierce, who helped pen the language of the bill and who contends that when the Supreme Court makes unconstitutional decisions, justice and the Constitution demand that those decisions be ignored.
Abolitionists believe the pro-life movement’s continual submission to such unjust rulings and their repeated attempts to find loopholes within them instead of openly and consistently demanding justice for the preborn are primary reasons why abortion remains legal in the United States.
“The key to keeping abortion legal is to continuously delay its abolition with a never ending stream of incremental pro-life victories,” said abolitionist T. Russell Hunter in a recent talk delivered to abolitionists at the Abolish Abortion Texas Conference.