Welcome to Defending Life 2010! AUL is enormously encouraged by the progress that we made in 2009 toward restoring a Culture of Life and are confident that 2010 will be even better!
Importantly, despite Congress and the Obama Administration’s relentless pursuit of a strategy to implement a regime of unregulated and unrestricted abortion-on-demand, to fund unethical and destructive biotechnologies, to coerce and undermine the consciences of healthcare providers, and to marginalize the elderly, the vulnerable, and those facing the end of life, the majority of states have continued their pursuit of life-affirming laws and policies.
Many of the necessary building blocks for a culture that respects and protects life and for laws that reflect that desired cultural imperative are contained in this volume. By design, Defending Life emphasizes the importance of life-affirming legislation and seeks to educate legislators, the media, and the American public on the full spectrum of life issues and the many opportunities and challenges we face. We also hope it will encourage everyone to stay active and informed not just at the federal level, but also at the state and local levels. As this one-of-a-kind legal guide shows, it is in the states where we are making the most significant progress—state by state, law by law, and person by person—toward the day when everyone is welcomed in life and protected in law.
Defending Life 2010 has several key components:
- In-depth discussions of key legislative and policy issues related to abortion, protection of the unborn, bioethics, the end of life, and healthcare rights of conscience.
- Review and analysis of the 2009 state legislative sessions, overviews of the important gains and key defeats in the ongoing fight to preserve and defend the sanctity of all human life, and strategic recommendations for each of the 50 states.
- Thirty-one pieces of model legislation developed by AUL experts to assist legislators and policymakers in drafting, debating, and passing life-affirming laws.
- Specific information on each of the states, including an overall ranking of the states and thorough analysis of each state’s successes, opportunities, and challenges.
Thank you for your support of AUL and for Defending Life!
Today we find ourselves in a promising environment. More pro-life laws are in effect than ever before and there is increasing public recognition of the negative impact of abortion on women. Moreover, in April 2007, the United States Supreme Court upheld the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 and opened the door for states to enact more meaningful regulations of abortion.
These gains have been realized, in large part, through a systematic and strategic effort in the states to select tactical steps that provide incremental gains today while laying the groundwork for much larger gains in the future. We often think of momentous United States Supreme Court (USSC) rulings such as Roe v. Wade as arriving suddenly on the scene. For the general public, these landmark cases sometimes come as a surprise, radically changing our law, social policy, and culture. However, for those working for the change, the landmark case often represents not a sudden break with the past, but the culmination of decades of persistent legal work to build precedent through small incremental victories.
Mississippi provides an excellent example of the effectiveness of an incremental, legal strategy to combat the evil of abortion. Over the past 15 years, Mississippi has adopted 15 pro-life laws. As a result, abortions in the state have decreased by nearly 60% and six out of seven abortion clinics have closed—leaving only one embattled abortion clinic in the entire state.
AUL actively advocates the systematic, incremental adoption and implementation of life-affirming laws in the states. In this chapter, we have sought to provide state lawmakers, state attorneys general, public policy groups, lobbyists, the media, and others involved in the cause for life with proven legal strategies and tools that will, step by step and state by state, lead to a more pro-life America and help set the stage for the state-by-state battle that will follow Roe’s ultimate reversal.
State laws protecting unborn victims of violence received significant public and media attention over the past few years. In January 2008, Marine Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach and her unborn child were murdered near Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Lauterbach was nearing her due date at the time of her murder. Fellow Marine Cesar Armando Laurean has been charged in the Lauterbach’s murder, but will not face charges for killing Lauterbach’s child since North Carolina is one of only 14 states that does not have a law protecting unborn victims of violence (i.e., fetal homicide laws).
Conversely, in April 2008, Maryland prosecutors secured the state’s first conviction under its new fetal homicide law when 25-year-old David Miller was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for killing Elizabeth Walters and their unborn daughter. A witness to the murders testified that Miller, who was married to another woman, climbed into the back seat of the car she was sitting in with Walters and told the pregnant woman she was “not going to ruin [his] life,” then pulled out a gun and shot Walters in the head. Friends of the popular Baltimore waitress said she had enthusiastically made the choice to keep and raise her daughter and was eagerly preparing for the birth.
Finally, laws protecting infants who survive attempted abortions, most commonly referred to as born-alive infant protection laws, became a centerpiece of the 2008 Presidential campaign.
As the pro-life movement focuses significant time and attention on protecting unborn children from abortion and laments existing constraints on its ability to provide legal protection to the unborn in this context, it is often easy to forget that there are many opportunities to protect and to provide legal recognition for unborn and newly-born children outside the context of abortion. Among these opportunities are enacting of state unborn victims of violence protections; permitting assailants to be prosecuted for nonfatal assaults on the unborn; providing a civil cause of action in the death of an unborn child because of the negligence of a third party (such as a drunk driver); and requiring that infants who survive an abortion are given proper medical care and attention. This section outlines these opportunities to protect the unborn and newly-born and provides resources for their enactment.
With each passing year, we face new and increasingly complex challenges to the sanctity of human life. Medical research and new biotechnologies are advancing far faster than our society’s ethical and legal constraints ensuring its moral use. When Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World in 1932, human cloning was just science fiction. Today, human cloning is a reality.
We have seen extraordinary advances in medical research over the past 10 years. The once languishing area of stem cell research has surged to life. Every day, new treatments developed from adult stem cells are being used to treat real people suffering from once incurable diseases and serious injuries. Others, while not cured, have made such progress that their illnesses or injuries no longer dominate their everyday lives, and they once again engage in life in a way they never thought possible.
Scientists have been able to help patients suffering from over 70 different diseases and injuries—including brain cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, Crone’s disease, Lupus, heart damage, Parkinson’s, Sickle cell anemia, and end-stage bladder disease—using adult stem cells. Conversely, morally-problematic embryonic stem-cell research has not helped a single human patient.
Despite the promising advances in adult stem-cell research, many scientists and politicians continue to seek unfettered freedom (and your tax dollars) for immoral uses of biotechnology in the hope of miracle cures. If we do not act with greater urgency, the abuse of nascent human life will become more entrenched and far more difficult to regulate. Powerful ethical and legal limits are needed to preserve and protect the sanctity of all human life.
In this section, we have focused on providing accurate and up-to-date information on advances in biotechnology, including human cloning, destructive embryo research (DER), and ethical alternatives to DER—including adult stem cells, human skin cells, and cord blood.
Moreover, capitalizing on the national debate over with the “Octo-Mom” and the ethical limits of assisted reproduction, we hope to spark thoughtful and responsible discussion and debate on the regulation of assisted reproductive technologies (ART), including in vitro fertilization (IVF). For example, we argue in favor of informed consent for IVF and limitations on the number of embryos that may be implanted during an IVF treatment cycle. We also urge that embryo adoption be given as an option to parents of IVF-created embryos, and that such an adoption be recognized under state law. It is critical that we provide meaningful oversight and regulation of IVF and other reproductive technologies, as the so-called “leftover embryos” in IVF clinics around the nation are at the heart of ongoing debates over DER and human cloning.
Legal euthanasia in America seems to many to be an impossibility, but euthanasia advocates are diligently at work, incrementally advancing their agenda—accomplishing both big and small victories in public opinion, in legislatures, and in judicially-active courts. Euthanasia advocates cleverly cloak the hastening the death of America’s most vulnerable citizens as “Compassion and Choice.” The marketing terms of “compassion” and “choice” deceptively portray self-destruction as morally correct and empowering. Unfortunately, they have gained “right to die” proponents significant momentum as Oregon, Washington, and Montana currently sanction physician-assisted suicide (PAS).
This section is designed to educate and encourage lawmakers and citizens to continue the fight against the culture of death promulgated by supporters of euthanasia. As experienced in the Netherlands, once a nation permits voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide, the principle of “universality” or “equal treatment” forces one to accept ending the lives of those without explicit request. Touting “Death with Dignity” and “choice” for the terminally ill in insufferable pain is merely an incremental step in the continuum toward hastening death for the elderly, disabled, depressed, and others deemed to have a low quality of life at any age and stage of life.
In most years, legislative and other state measures related to the end-of-life are few in number and do not receive much attention, except when, as in late 2008, Washington state voters approved physician-assisted suicide (PAS) and a Montana district court declared that the state’s constitutional rights to individual privacy and human dignity include the right for a patient to use the assistance of her physician to obtain lethal medication and commit suicide.
Just as in 2005 when the Terri Schindler-Schiavo case commanded the public’s attention when a court ordered her feeding and hydration tube removed, the recent death of Linda Fleming, the first woman to commit suicide under the new PAS law in Washington, drew similar attention and much sorrow from pro-life advocates. Unfortunately, victories in Washington and Montana have energized the pro-euthanasia movement and emboldened it to introduce PAS legislation and other end-of-life related legislation across the country.
In 2009, approximately 140 measures related to end-of-life issues were considered in 44 states – a significant increase in activity from levels seen in 2008. This dramatic turn-of-events demands a meaningful public debate about PAS and euthanasia, the affirmative act of removing food and hydration from vulnerable patients, the scope and effectiveness of advance directives for health care and similar legal documents, and palliative care and pain management options.
Legal protection for health care rights of conscience affirms the need to provide quality care to patients, but also acknowledges that certain demands of patients, usually for procedures that are life-destructive and not life-saving, must not be blindly accommodated to the detriment of the rights of health care providers. Individuals and institutions do not lose their right to exercise their moral and religious beliefs and consciences once they decide to enter the health care profession.
Those who oppose laws protecting rights of conscience, primarily pro-abortion advocates, increasingly couch their arguments with references to women’s right to health care access (including access to contraception) and seek to compel providers to act in violation of their consciences. However, the use of the term “access” is a red herring, as there is no real problem, when a conscientious objection is made, with a patient going to another (willing) health care provider for service.
However, protecting rights of conscience is necessary to avoid added stress on an already overtaxed health care system. Experts project that current shortages of physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals will worsen, failing to meet future requirements. Legal action and other pressure to compel health care providers to participate in procedures to which they conscientiously object threaten to make an already dangerous situation disastrous. By forcing health care professionals to choose between conscience and career, we will lose doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who are already in short supply, especially in rural parts of the country. We will also effectively bar competent young men and women, desperately needed, from entering these vital professions. Without a doubt, the health of the nation demands protecting individual freedom of conscience.
Many states have adopted conscience laws that give private hospitals, physicians, and nurses the right to conscientiously object only to participating in abortion. However, what is urgently needed are laws that recognize an affirmative civil right for all health care providers, including individuals (who may work for a private or public healthcare facility); institutions (whether those institutions are public or private); and payers (such as insurance companies) to refuse to participate in any health care service to which they conscientiously object. This section also seeks to provide the necessary resources to enact urgently-needed and comprehensive protection for all healthcare workers.
State of the States
Defending Life includes in-depth analysis of the life-related laws in all 50 states. We also provide a ranking of the states – from most pro-life to most anti-life. In evaluating the 50 states, AUL’s attorneys have looked at laws in five primary areas:
- Laws related to abortion, including informed consent, parental involvement, abortion clinic regulations, limitations on state funding for abortion, and funding of abortion alternatives.
- Laws that protect unborn victims of violence.
- Laws related to biotechnology, including human cloning, stem cell research, uses of prenatal and genetic testing, and assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization.
- Laws impacting the end of life, including assisted suicide and advance directives for medical care.
- Laws that protect the rights of conscience of health care workers, health care institutions, and health insurance providers.
In our analysis, we have looked beyond the mere existence of a law to the actual substance and practical effect of the law. Finally, using this state-specific information and taking into account the political realities of each state, we have attempted to identify key legislative opportunities for each state.