Looking back on 2021, it’s clear that this marks a historic year for America’s pro-life movement. We made great strides for life, weathering attempts to discard the Hyde Amendment and hearing oral arguments on abortion’s flawed legal history in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Here are the top ten pro-life highlights of 2021:
10. The court-packing scheme to “fix” the 6-3 so-called conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court and quash pro-life hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade sputtered to a halt. Court packing would impose a partisan power grab on the federal Judiciary, raises concerns about destroying the Supreme Court’s legitimacy, and is deeply unpopular with the American people.
9. Americans United for Life filed a brief for 228 Members of Congress calling for the overturn of Roe and its pernicious progeny, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. A combined 231 Members of Congress and thousands of state lawmakers urged the Court to overturn Roe in several of the over 80 briefs filed in support of Mississippi’s life-affirming law. Casey’s arbitrary viability line has been unworkable in the courts, and the Supreme Court should overrule the abortion cases to return the issue to the democratic process.
8. The Sixth Circuit en banc upheld Ohio’s prenatal nondiscrimination law in Preterm-Cleveland v. McCloud, prohibiting abortions in which a woman’s reason for the abortion is because she does not want a child with Down syndrome. The right to a pre-viability abortion is not absolute, and a state’s interest in protecting human life from eugenic abortion is legitimate and important.
7. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem issued an executive order protecting women from the threat of dangerous chemical abortion drugs. The executive order prohibits telemedicine abortions and develops comprehensive chemical abortion licensing and reporting standards in light of the FDA’s suspension of the federal in-person dispensing requirement.
6. Political inflammation over the Hyde Amendment has died down, allowing the federal government to continue to limit public funding of abortions. The Hyde Amendment has a long-standing, bipartisan history of protecting conscience rights and preventing taxpayer-funded abortions from being pushed on low-income families.
5. The deceptively named “Women’s Health Protection Act,” which would radically expand abortion in the United States, is stalled in a tightly-divided Senate. As stated in Senate testimony by Americans United for Life President & CEO Catherine Glenn Foster: “The Women’s Health Protection Act would effectively ban all lifesaving state protections for women considering abortion, and for our youngest preborn children, including those upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, for women considering abortion, for children before viability, and even for many late-term viable children.”
4. The Supreme Court allowed the Texas Heartbeat Act (S.B. 8) to remain in effect following challenges in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson and United States v. Texas. While litigation remains ongoing, the law, which limits abortions after the baby’s heartbeat is detectable, is saving lives everyday.
3. The Sixth Circuit en banc upheld Tennessee’s reflection period law on the merits in Bristol Regional Women’s Center v. Slatery. The law requires doctors to provide informed consent counseling at least forty-eight hours before performing an abortion. The case is a strong legal precedent for protecting unborn life and ensuring a woman’s consent is informed and deliberate.
2. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case poised to limit, and possibly overturn, Roe and Casey. Dobbs presented the most comprehensive oral argument the Supreme Court has heard on abortion, touching upon stare decisis, the undue burden standard’s viability line, women’s social reliance upon abortion, the distorted legal history of abortion, federalism, and the impact of safe haven laws. We will have a decision sometime in 2022.
1. The 2021 state legislative sessions were some of the best ever for life. In fact, the Guttmacher Institute calls this past year “the worst year for abortion rights in almost half a century,” which is a win in the pro-life book. Purple states like Montana and New Hampshire enacted gestational limits and informed consent protections, while other states provided support for growing families, prevented dangerous telemedicine abortions, and improved public health data reporting. Over twenty states passed almost 100 pro-life laws and resolutions in 2021.
Between the legislative sessions and ongoing litigation including Dobbs, we are optimistic 2022 will maintain this pro-life momentum, taking us one step closer to a world in which all humans are welcomed in life and protected in law.