This article was originally published at Pregnancy Help News March 29, 2022 and is reprinted here with permission.
As America awaits the Supreme Court ruling this summer in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which could overturn Roe v. Wade, states are rushing to curb abortion access. This last week multiple states added new laws to the books to help save the unborn.
Here’s a breakdown of the most recent pro-life wins:
On Monday, March 21, 2022, World Down Syndrome Day, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed the Unborn Child with a Disability Protection and Education Act into law.
This law will go into effect June 10, 2022, and prohibits abortion based on a baby’s disability, except when performed to save the life of the mother or when the child is found to be incompatible with life.
Additionally, the law will require any physician presenting positive prenatal test results to the parents to also present them with educational information “that has been reviewed by medical experts and any national disability rights organizations” on fetal disabilities. This information includes but is not limited to physical, developmental, educational, and psychosocial outcomes, life expectancy, and treatment options as well as contact information for support programs and hotlines.
Any physician found to have violated this law faces having their medical license revoked or suspended and/or a civil penalty or fine determined by the West Virginia Board of Medicine.
The Unborn Child with a Disability Protection and Education Act will not only help save the lives of the unborn, prevent discriminatory abortions, and ensure families are properly educated about their baby’s diagnosis, but it will also help prevent doctors from pressuring women to have abortions after positive prenatal tests which often happens.
On Twitter Governor Jim Justice stated the law gives “deserved respect to our Down Syndrome community.”
On Wednesday, March 23, 2022, Idaho became the first state to pass a law modeled after the Texas Heartbeat Act as Idaho Governor Brad Little signed a bill amending the Fetal Heartbeat Preborn Child Protection Act.
Senate Bill 1309, which will go into effect April 22, 2022, prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around 6 weeks gestation, except in the events of rape or incest, when a police report is filed, or to save the life of the mother. Like Texas, this law relies on private citizens to sue abortionists found in violation of the law and is not enforced by the state. This private citizen enforcement method is the exact method that has allowed the Texas Heartbeat Act to remain in effect for over six months.
However, unlike, Texas where practically anyone can launch such a lawsuit when abortion is committed, the Idaho abortion law will only allow the woman upon whom the abortion was performed, or the father, grandparent, sibling, aunt, or uncle of the unborn child to file a lawsuit. The law does specifically outline that the father of the unborn child cannot sue if he impregnated the woman through rape, incest, or another unlawful act.
These individuals can launch a civil lawsuit up to four years after the abortion and upon successful litigation, an abortionist would be ordered to pay attorney fees, not less than $20,000 per abortion performed in violation of the law.
“I stand in solidarity with all Idahoans who seek to protect the lives of preborn babies,” Little wrote in a letter to his Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin upon signing the law.
On Wednesday, March 23, 2022, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed not one but two pro-life bills into law.
House Bill 1318 amends prior law to prohibit medical abortion by telemedicine and increases the penalty for the unlicensed practice of medicine when performing a medical abortion. The law bans the use of mifepristone or misoprostol after nine weeks after conception. It also outlines the following:
1. Before receiving mifepristone, a woman must first visit her doctor and sign an informed consent form
2. Between twenty-four and seventy-two hours after taking Mifepristone, if the 25 pregnant mother decides to continue with the medical abortion, she must return to her physician to receive Misoprostol
3. On the fourteenth day after taking the medication, the woman must return to the abortion facility to confirm that the fetus, placenta, and membranes have been fully expelled
In addition, it states that any person who practices medicine without a license, certificate, or permit is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and if that person were to “prescribe medicine in order to induce a medical abortion” they would be guilty of a Class 6 felony.
House Bill 1318 comes after a state Department of Health rule regarding telemedicine was drafted last year upon Noem’s Executive Order. However, that rule was blocked by a federal judge last month so House Bill 1318 can only go into effect after litigation is settled.
On the other hand, House Bill 1113, prohibits anyone from making threats to coerce a woman into an abortion. Specifically, the law will make it a Class B felony “for any person to threaten to kill or threaten to commit other aggravated crimes against a pregnant mother or someone in the pregnant mother’s presence with the intent to cause an abortion, and the threat results in the death of the unborn human being.”
In addition to the three pro-life laws outlined above, Florida 2nd Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey reversed a precedent regarding a 24-hour hold time between counseling and an abortion.
On Wednesday, March 23, 2022, Judge Dempsey ordered that women in Florida must undergo a 24-hour waiting period between in-person counseling regarding the “nature and risks of undergoing or not undergoing” an abortion and having the procedure. While the “Informed Patient Consent” law has been on the books in Florida since 2015, an injunction was placed on the waiting period in prior court rulings until now.
The state’s lawyers argued the 24-hour waiting period would “allow women to process the information received and fully consider what is a life-changing decision.”