State after state banning abortion: proof that pro-life efforts work, and where we go from here

ABC News recently observed that lately, an unprecedented number of states have banned abortion in some way or another. North Dakota’s abortion bans and personhood amendment, Texas‘s sonogram law, and Kansas‘s  no exceptions legislation – just to name just a few – represent great strides towards ultimately abolishing abortion in the United States. 

What is the driving force behind these successes? Why are pro-life bills passing en masse now, when for forty years they seemed to inch along at a discouragingly slow pace?

The ABC piece suggests that the explanation is as simple as pro-lifers getting lucky with Republican majorities.  Although it may be true that Republicans are dominating more state legislatures now than in years past, this fact falls short of explaining away the recent success of pro-life legislation.

In reality, this is a momentous time for the pro-life movement because forty years of hard work and prayer are beginning to come to fruition. The Republicans who are voting pro-life bills into law would not have been elected if pro-lifers’ efforts hadn’t first led hearts and minds to favor respect for life. Our work is far from done, but we can take recent legislative successes as a little nudge that our efforts are not worthless in a movement where tangible achievements are few and far between.

But don’t take our word for it. Even Nancy Keenan, NARAL Pro-Choice America’s former president, saw what was happening before many of us did. As Newsweek tells it:

And what worries Keenan is that she just doesn’t see a passion among the post-Roe generation—at least, not among those on her side. This past January, when Keenan’s train pulled into Washington’s Union Station, a few blocks from the Capitol, she was greeted by a swarm of anti-abortion-rights activists. It was the 37th annual March for Life, organized every year on Jan. 22, the anniversary of Roe. “I just thought, my gosh, they are so young,” Keenan recalled. “There are so many of them, and they are so young.”

In fact,Keenan may have been prophetic, because her aforementioned remarks of April 2010 foreshadowed a monumental year for pro-life efforts. As ABC recounts, it was in that year that the tide started to turn very significantly for pro-life legislation and the momentum hasn’t seemed to slow down since:

Before 2010, no states banned abortions outright at any stage of pregnancy. Nebraska started the trend with a 20-week abortion ban in April 2010. In 2011, Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, and Oklahoma followed suit, and in 2012, Arizona, Georgia, and Louisiana passed curbs of their own. Last week, Arkansas became the first state to approve an abortion ban this year.

The article, which was written before the monumental and unprecedented personhood amendment passed in North Dakota, cites Arkansas as the state with the most stringent abortion laws. In just the few days between ABC News’s report and the ND Senate passing its personhood legislation, the ABC article proved its own point yet again: pro-lifers are taking over America.

Celebrities and news outlets insist that the majority of Americans are “pro-choice,” but recent polling – including a poll from CNN – suggests otherwise.

What’s the takeaway? It’s certainly not to think that our work is finished. On the contrary. Consider: the success pro-life legislation is seeing today came on the heels of forty long, hard years of prayer and work. Many pro-life activists did not live to see this day, much less the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The incremental success that we are having on the state level today is good, but it goes to show that if we are to achieve the ultimate goal of permanently undoing Roe, we have an exponentially greater amount of work and dedication to commit to than what the last forty years have seen.

For the first time in a long time, the majority is on our side. And it is only going to stay that way if we continue to work hard. The first generation of pro-lifers jumped a lot of hurdles and laid a lot of groundwork, showing us what does and does not work in this movement. Now we can honor their commitment and carry on their legacy, redoubling our efforts as we – the generation that survived Roe – move towards the day when abortion is completely eradicated from our nation and our world.

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