Pro-Life Movement Gains Traction at State Level

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Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have often dashed the hopes of pro-life forces, killing most attempts to restrict abortion.
    
In April, Democratic lawmakers squashed the effort to cut federal funding of Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion-provider.
    
At the state level, it's a different story where pro-life laws are flying through many legislatures.

"The greatest momentum that we have as a pro-life movement is locally, is within states," Rev. Pat Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition   

"In Alabama, there's four bills pending right now," he noted. "Idaho just passed a fetal pain bill. It's extraordinary what's going on in the states, and we're very excited about it."

Behind Pro-Life Success
 
Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Nance credits Election Day 2010 for the pro-life movement's success at the state level.
 
"Elections have consequences," Nance said. "The last election swept in all these new pro-life legislators in states around the country." 
 
In just the first three months of 2011, more than 900 bills across 49 states came up that deal with women's reproduction, a majority of them abortion-related. Many of the proposed laws limit how long into a pregnancy abortion would be allowed.

"Florida alone has 18 bills that it's considering on pro-life issues," Nance noted.

Kansas has passed legislation that deals with fetal pain and 16 other states are similar bills.
 
"In Ohio, there's the heartbeat bill," Nance said. "It's a bill that prohibits abortion when there's actually a heartbeat for the baby, and that can be as early as three weeks."

Ultrasound Legislation
 
In another battlefront, 13 states are trying to mandate that women considering abortions first get ultrasounds.

"When a mom sees a picture of her baby in utero, it crystallizes the fact that it really is a baby, there's a life in there," Nance said.

Pro-choice advocates say such measures just harass and intimidate women. Nance insists it provides pregnant women valuable information.
 
"If you really care about women making good choices, if you're really pro-choice, you'd want them to have all the information," she said.

Reversing Roe v. Wade

Much pro-life activity has been aimed at getting the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 decision legalizing abortion overturned or overridden. But Mahoney says the states could accomplish much the same result on their own.
 
"And this is what we've always maintained: We don't have to see a Roe v Wade overturned in the Supreme Court to end it," Mahoney said.

"We want to. But if we chip away and chip away, we'll find out that Roe really has no impact," he said. "And that's what we are doing." 
 
Nance believes with 51 percent of Americans now saying they're pro-life, this trend of states passing laws that restrict or discourage abortion will continue.
 
"I think that the tide has turned on public opinion, and policy is downstream of opinion," she said. 

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Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.