With nearly 50 years of service as the legal architect of the pro-life movement, Americans United for Life has consistently accumulated victories, built momentum, and advanced a culture of life in America. A few key accomplishments stand out as representative of AUL’s unique contributions to pro-life successes across the country and in Washington, D.C.
A Proven Track Record of Success
Winning the Hyde Amendment Case Before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 1980, Americans United for Life won a historic victory for pro-life America when we successfully defended the Hyde Amendment in Harris v. McRae before the U.S. Supreme Court. AUL. AUL attorney Victor Rosenblum argued the case before the Court, resulting in a favorable decision and ending a four-year court battle. This important court decision upheld federal and state prohibitions on public funding of abortion except in the case of the life of the mother.
Establishing Fetal Homicide Laws in 38 states.
A fetal homicide law recognizes an unborn child as a potential victim of criminal violence. AUL’s legal experts laid the intellectual groundwork to enact fetal homicide laws nationwide. At the time of the Roe decision in 1973, only three states enforced these protective laws. Today, 38 states have fetal homicide laws in place, and 29 of these laws protect the unborn child from conception.
Defending Life in the Law, Reducing Abortions State by State, since the early days of Roe.
AUL is the pioneer of the state-based model legislative strategy, which has exploded, in the past few years. AUL’s specific strategy works to save lives today while undermining the so-called “reliance” interest adopted by the Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey: the false idea that women “rely” on abortion to succeed in American society. According to scholar Dr. Michael J. New, legislative efforts to enact parental involvement laws, informed consent laws, and limits on taxpayer funding of abortions has contributed to a 25 percent nationwide decline in the number of abortions performed since 1992. AUL’s strategy is a mother-child approach that looks at the interests and vulnerabilities of both mother AND child, protecting them both from abortion industry abuses. AUL first drafted legislation for Illinois as early as 1974, but expanded the state legislation strategy nationwide in 1989 after the Supreme Court’s decision in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, a case in which AUL advised on both legislation and litigation, and that opened up new avenues for abortion regulations. In November 1989, AUL held a national conference for legislators in Chicago, laying the groundwork for broader pro-life protections in the law.
Creating and Distributing Defending Life, “The Pro-Life Playbook.”
In 2005, AUL published the first edition of Defending Life, which has been called “the Pro-Life Playbook,” giving legislators and pro-life leaders the legal and policy tools they need to protect life in law. Working in all 50 states with governors, legislators, and pro-life leaders, AUL has developed and maintains the nation’s most comprehensive catalogue of cutting-edge, life-affirming legislation, which is featured annually in Defending Life. Among the more than 50 pieces of model legislation authored by AUL legal and policy experts is the Women’s Health Defense Act prohibiting abortions after five months of pregnancy based on increasing evidence of the negative impact that late-term abortions have on women’s health, as well as concerns about the pain felt by unborn children. AUL’s model is the only one to directly attack the Supreme Court’s primary rationale for affirming Roe v. Wade – the “reliance interest.” The specific language and animating principles of this innovative model directly undercut the Supreme Court’s ill-informed assumption that abortion is beneficial for women and safeguards women’s health.
Protecting Life Overseas – with implications here at home.
IRELAND: In 1979, AUL played a pivotal role in amending the Irish Constitution, requiring the equal protection of unborn human life and the life of the mother, making Ireland one of the strongest pro-life nations in Europe. In subsequent legal battles, abortion advocates pushed abortion through court decisions, and AUL was there to fight for life. Given that activist judges in the U.S. will use foreign decision advancing abortion as support for finding a right to abortion under international law binding upon the US, it is important to fight for life overseas.LATIN AMERICA: In 2012, AUL published a groundbreaking study of pro-life laws in Latin America, Defending the Human Right to Life in Latin America that documents the pro-life laws, policies and preferences of the vast majority of Latin Americans. It plays an essential role in resisting the effort of pro-abortion forces to liberalize laws on abortion in what is currently the most pro-life part of the globe.
Testifying four times in Senate confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominees.
As the nation’s oldest, national pro-life organization, AUL’s leadership on pro-life law and policy and its reputation as a thoughtful pro-life advocate has been recognized four times by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee when AUL was asked to address pro-life concerns in confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominees. AUL leaders testified during confirmation hearings for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Stephen Breyer. Recently, AUL’s current President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest testified during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. AUL has also given Congressional testimony before both the House of Representatives and the Senate regarding federal legislation.
Developing the groundbreaking The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood (2011) and The Planned Parenthood Exhibits: The Continuing Case For Investigating the Nation’s Largest Abortion Provider (2012) and, along with pro-life members of Congress and other allies, provoking an unprecedented Congressional investigation of the abortion giant.
In July of 2011, AUL released an explosive exposé, “The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood,” which documents known and alleged abuses including misuse of federal healthcare and family planning funds, failure to report criminal child sexual abuse, failure to comply with parental involvement laws, willingness to assist those involved in prostitution and/or sex trafficking, dangerous abuse of the abortion drug RU-486, misinformation about so-called “emergency contraception,” including the new drug ella, willingness to give women deceptive and false information, and a willingness to refer women to substandard clinics.In September 2011, led by U.S. Congressman Cliff Stearns (then Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations), the Energy and Commerce Committee launched the first ever investigation into Planned Parenthood’s use of taxpayer dollars and its institutional policies and practices – an investigation largely motivated by the troubling questions raised in this groundbreaking report.In October 2012, AUL launched “The Planned Parenthood Exhibits: the continuing case for investigating the nation’s largest abortion provider.” The Exhibits, background papers released every day in the month of October (Planned Parenthood’s anniversary month) document additional grounds to investigate, and ultimately de-fund, the abortion chain. The Exhibits serve as an important role in exposing the true nature of Planned Parenthood and cover a broad range of issues including: recently unsealed “whistleblower” lawsuits alleging fraudulent billing practices at Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood’s health and safety violations, Planned Parenthood’s bullying of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and Planned Parenthood’s lobbying and litigation efforts to oppose to common-sense laws.
Fighting for Life in the Courts by filing more amicus curiae (or “friend of the court”) briefs than any other pro-life organization – more than 100 and counting.
Since 1972, AUL has been involved in more than 100 federal and state cases across the country and internationally, including every significant abortion-related case before the Supreme Court. AUL has filed more amicus curiae (or “friend of the court”) briefs than any other pro-life organization, further solidifying its position as the legal architect of the pro-life movement. AUL has represented a wide range of high profile clients: state and federal legislators, including Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, and the majority of the Oklahoma Legislature; medical and bioethics leaders, such as former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and Dr. Edmund Pellegrino; leading medical organizations, such as the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, and Christian Medical & Dental Associations; and non-profit organizations, such as 40 Days for Life and Care Net. Amicus briefs filed by AUL are increasingly drawing the attention of the nation’s top courts; for example, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently adopted a portion of AUL’s amicus argument in upholding South Dakota’s requirement that women be informed of the potential increased risk of suicide following abortion (Planned Parenthood of Minnesota/South Dakota/North Dakota v. Rounds), and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals cited AUL’s amicus brief in its decision enjoining the forced insurance provision of “emergency contraception” under the Affordable Care Act (Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius).
Providing cutting-edge legal language and policy resources needed to enact state laws that protect life, safeguard women’s health, and affirm the dignity of all human beings.
AUL remains the leading advocate for state laws protecting human life from conception until natural death. For example, since 2011, AUL has been involved in the passage of more than 60 protective state laws, nearly a third of all such laws enacted over the past three years. Notably, in 2011, Arizona became the first state to enact AUL’s Women’s Health Protection Act, banning abortions at five months of pregnancy based on concerns for women’s health and the pain felt by unborn children. Also of particular interest is an AUL model law banning abortions performed for reasons of genetic abnormalities or sex-selection. In 2013, North Dakota became the first state to enact this innovative and humane law.
Leading in the Fight Against Physician-Assisted Suicide.
AUL successfully defended, in state courts and before the U.S. Supreme Court (Cruzan v. Missouri, 1990), the claim that there is no constitutional “right to die.” AUL attorneys also published a critical law review article “Suicide: A Constitutional Right?” cited prominently by the U.S. Supreme Court when it unanimously rejected the claim of a constitutional right to assisted suicide in 1997. In 1980, AUL published Death, Dying and Euthanasia,a collection of essays on the complex social, legal, medical, and moral issues surrounding the end of life, and has continued to be involved in every significant case, at both the state and federal levels, concerning physician-assisted suicide, including the extensive role AUL played in Baxter v. Montana in 2009.