OPINION | States are preparing for a post-Roe world

By Timothy R. Busch, Founder of the Napa Institute
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March 2, 2022

Thank God for states.

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade this year, which seems possible if not probable in the Dobbs v. Jackson case, the states will take the lead in protecting unborn life and pregnant mothers. Most are preparing to do exactly that. A historic number of pro-life laws have already been passed or introduced, and all they need to take effect is the right Supreme Court ruling between now and summer.

The state push to protect the unborn and pregnant mothers has been long in the making. In the past decade alone, a large number of states have passed hundreds of laws blocking abortions after a certain period, requiring ultrasounds before abortions, and other strong measures. Yet, the current year has seen a surge in momentum. Since the start of 2022, at least 230 pro-life bills have started moving through state legislatures, and several are expected to pass.

Consider what just happened in a single week in Florida, Arizona, and West Virginia.

The Florida state House of Representatives passed a 15-week abortion prohibition, and the Senate could soon send this policy to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis. He has already indicated his support for the bill, putting a strong pro-life law within reach in America’s third-largest state.

In Arizona, the state Senate passed a similar 15-week bill. With a pro-life majority in Arizona’s House, passage looks likely there, too. So does Gov. Doug Ducey’s signature, given his long history of signing commonsense bills that protect the unborn.

In West Virginia, the House passed its own 15-week legislation by an overwhelming vote of 81-18. Its path to passage in the Senate seems clear, as does its path into law via Gov. Jim Justice.

Such progress is unprecedented — and it all happened in just one week. When passed, these laws will join a slew of similar measures already enacted. At least 26 states have laws on the books that would block abortion either completely or after a certain number of weeks.

Some of these laws are relatively new, most notably in Texas, which now blocks abortions after six weeks and is the only such policy in effect nationwide. Other laws have been on the books since before Roe forced abortion on-demand nationwide. These states have been patiently waiting for nearly 50 years to end that injustice — and start defending life again.

Not all the news is good. While most states are moving to become more pro-life, a handful are going in the opposite direction. In January, New Jersey made abortion a fundamental right under state law. New York recently rolled back restrictions on the most barbaric types of abortion, and California is trying to become a so-called “sanctuary state” for abortions.

Not only do these moves put more unborn lives at risk, but they also defy the national consensus. Nearly three-quarters of Americans support legal limits on abortion. The states rolling back abortion are mainstream, whereas those seeking to make abortion more common are extreme.

On the whole, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe and returns abortion decision-making power to the states, the country will take a decidedly pro-life turn. It’s true different policies in different states will be confusing, and the injustice of abortion will survive in many places.

That’s why legal scholars and constitutional lawyers have long argued that in reversing Roe, the Supreme Court should prohibit abortion as a violation of the Constitution’s guarantee that states cannot “deprive any person of life” without “due process of law.” At that point, the current state rush to enact pro-life laws would be unnecessary, as the right to life would be protected nationwide.

Such a ruling looks unlikely, even from the Supreme Court’s current constitutionalist majority. If the justices overturn Roe, they will most likely free states to make their own decisions on this critical issue. If that happens, it’s already clear what the result will be: Many states will enact great pro-life laws, and America will be better for it.

Tim Busch is co-founder of the Napa Institute, a Catholic lay organization. This article was previously seen in the Washington Examiner.

Photo credit from UPI website.

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