PRO-LIFE LAWS MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE.
What we sometimes forget is that while court battles get the glitzy media attention, the day-to-day work of slowing abortion-on-demand and saving lives is typically done more quietly.
Michael J. New is a post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard-MIT data center. He is the author of a fascinating new study published by the Heritage Foundation entitled, "Analyzing the Effects of State Legislation on the Incidence of Abortion During the 1990s."
Dr. New investigated the enormously positive impact that passing protective laws had in reducing the number of abortions. New analyzed data from all 50 states.
When comparing the number of abortions in 1990 with the number in 1999, New concludes that these laws helped account for a drop of 17% in abortions in the 46 states that reported data for both years.
Let me quote the basic outline of what Dr. New did in his thoughtful profile of state legislation. "Examining state abortion data for every year from 1985 to 1999, and holding a variety of economic and demographic factors constant, the Heritage study examines the impact of four common types of pro-life legislation: parental-involvement laws, Medicaid funding restrictions, informed-consent laws and partial-birth-abortion bans," he writes.
The thrust of Dr. New's conclusions are clearly true, although NRLC's tallies are slightly different. For example, NRLC's analysis shows that in the era following the Supreme Court's 1992 Casey decision, 21 states have passed effective informed consent laws, with 19 of them being enforced.
Likewise, when it comes to state enforcement of parental involvement statutes, the number has obviously jumped since 1992. NRLC estimates that 25 states currently have true parental involvement laws in effect. And, of course, there were no state laws banning partial-birth abortions in 1992.
What made these state breakthroughs possible? According to Dr. New, one big reason was the aforementioned Casey decision. By adopting a new "undue burden" standard for evaluating the constitutionality of state laws, the Supreme Court upheld some laws it had struck in prior decisions.
This additional freedom gave "pro-life legislators at the state level more freedom to enact laws designed to protect the unborn," New writes, such as informed consent.
In a summary analysis of his study written for National Review online, New also attributes the reduction in the number of abortions to "the fact that pro-life legislators made considerable and lasting gains at the state level during the 1990s." (And, as New notes, there are many more pro-lifers occupying seats in the halls of Congress as well.)
Dr. New found that while all four types of pro-life legislation helped reduce the number of abortion, "Restrictions on the Medicaid funding of abortions had the largest and most statistically significant impact." In addition,"The enactment of informed-consent laws resulted in statistically significant reductions as well."
Dr. New concluded his National Review online article with these encouraging words.
"Overall, the 1990s were a good decade for the pro-life movement. Pro-life sentiment increased and the number of abortions declined. Additionally, the right-to-life movement enjoyed success both in terms of enacting legislation and devising approaches that are effective in persuading women to seek alternatives to abortion. With a president and majorities in the House and Senate that are largely pro-life, the next decade might be even better."
Your work is paying dividends. Please go to page 22 where you can read about state pro-life initiatives that are being undertaken in 2004.