Americans United for Life | Defending Life 2011
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Defending Life 2011

Note: Click on each subject heading below to read that section of Defending Life.


Welcome to Defending Life 2011!  AUL is enormously encouraged by the progress we have made in recent years toward restoring a culture of life, and we are confident that 2011 will be a water-shed year in the defense of life!

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 Defending Life 2011.  By design, we have emphasized the importance of life-affirming legislation and seek 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 hope that the information, analysis, and recommendations in Defending Life 2011 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 significant progress—state by state, law by law, and person by person – to protect women and the unborn from the threats of abortion, to curb and eliminate unethical and life-debasing uses of technology, to combat efforts to encourage and legalize euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, and to protect the freedom of conscience of our health care providers.

To guide these critical efforts, Defending Life 2011 has several key components:

  • Specific information on each of the 50 states, including an overall ranking of the states and a thorough analysis of each state’s successes, opportunities, and challenges.  We have also made strategic recommendations for each state.  These recommendations are based, in substantial part, on AUL’s innovative and comprehensive Reversing Roe plan, a plan with two key objectives:  (1) to develop legislation that can form the basis for a legal challenge to Roe v. Wade; and (2) to prepare the states for the “day after Roe” when abortion law and policy will again be the purview of each individual state.
  • In-depth discussions of key legislative and policy issues related to abortion, protection of the unborn, bioethics, the end of life, and health care freedom of conscience.
  • Review and analysis of the 2010 state legislative sessions and overviews of the important gains and key defeats in the ongoing fight to preserve and defend the sanctity of all human life.
  • Thirty-eight pieces of model legislation developed by AUL experts to assist legislators and policymakers in drafting, debating, and passing life-affirming laws.

Thank you for your commitment to the cause for life and your support of AUL’s efforts in Congress and the 50 states to protect and defend the sanctity of all human life.  Together, we are winning the fight to revitalize a culture of life in America, one in which every person is welcomed in life and protected in law!

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 freedom 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 identified key legislative opportunities for each state.

State of the States: Alabama – Indiana

State of the States: Iowa – New Jersey

State of the States: New Mexico – Wyoming


Today we find ourselves at a critical juncture in our efforts to protect women and the unborn from the scourge of abortion.  More pro-life laws are in effect than ever before, and there is increasing public recognition of the negative impact of abortion on women.  However, the current political environment in Washington, D.C. and in some states continues to present challenges.

Among these challenges is the “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA).  FOCA can be enacted at the federal level or in any number of states.  It has already been enacted in 7 states.  FOCA is a radical attempt to enshrine abortion-on-demand into law, sweep aside existing laws supported by the majority of Americans (such as requirements that licensed physicians perform abortions, fully-informed consent, and parental involvement), and prevent the American people and their elected representatives from enacting similar protective measures in the future.  It is also a cynical attempt by pro-abortion forces to prematurely end the debate over abortion and declare victory in the face of mounting evidence that the American public does not support the vast majority of abortions being performed in the U.S. each year and that abortion has a substantial negative impact on women.  Importantly, the aims of FOCA can be realized through either one comprehensive piece of legislation or by a systematic piecemeal approach.

Clearly, FOCA’s reach is intentionally broad.  It would immediately wipe away many of the pro-life gains achieved over the past twenty years.

These gains have been realized, in large part, through a concerted effort in the states to select strategic steps that provide incremental gains today while laying the groundwork for much larger gains in the future.  We often think of momentous U.S. Supreme Court 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 accumulated victories.

Mississippi provides an excellent example of the effectiveness of an incremental, legal strategy to combat the evil of abortion.  Over the past two decades, Mississippi has adopted 16 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.

Model Legislation: Abortion

AUL actively advocates the systematic adoption and implementation of life-affirming laws in the states.  We 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 of the state-by-state battle that will follow Roe’s ultimate reversal.

Legal Recognition of the Unborn and Newly-Born

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.

Model Legislation: Legal Recognition and Protection of the Unborn

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.

Bioethics & Biotechnology

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.

Model Legislation: Bioethics

In this section, we provide model legislation that squarely addresses the challenges of current biotechnologies, including human cloning, destructive embryo research (DER), and the harvesting of human eggs for both assisted reproduction and morally-problematic research.

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.

End of Life

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.

Model Legislation: End of Life

Physician-assisted suicide was legalized by Oregon in 1994 when it enacted its “Death with Dignity Act.” On November 4, 2008, Washington became the second state to legalize the grisly practice of physician-assisted suicide when voters approved Initiative 1000.  The Initiative took effect in March 2009 and a 66-year-old woman recently diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer was the first to legally commit suicide in May 2009.

Even more troubling, in December 2008, the First District Court of Montana became the first court in America to declare a right to die for competent, terminally-ill patients.  The judge claimed this right to die is encompassed in Montana’s constitutional rights to individual privacy and human dignity—and this right includes assistance from physicians and exceptions for the physicians from the Montana homicide statutes. This one Montana judge effectively imposed physician-assisted suicide on the citizens of Montana with no safeguards or appropriate legislative limitations in place.  She simply charged the legislature with the task of implementing this newfound “right to die.”  While the Montana Supreme Court did not rule on whether a person has a “right” to assisted suicide in the state, it did conclude that a physician who assists in a suicide can raise a “consent” defense if he or she is later prosecuted.

What is happening in Washington and particularly in Montana is a wake-up call to the nation and to those who want to protect the dying, the elderly, the sick, and the disabled.  Compassion & Choices, the Death with Dignity National Center, and other euthanasia advocacy groups’ deceptive mantra claim unbearable suffering for the terminally-ill and patient choice as the justification to further its mission—to export the practice of physician-assisted suicide to all 50 states.

Prior to November 2008, the Death with Dignity National Center called its targeted plan “Oregon plus One.”  According to this plan, if just one other state besides Oregon were to legalize physician-assisted suicide, it would essentially trigger a domino effect and the rest of the nation would soon follow.  Washington and now Montana have possibly set the domino effect in motion.  It is critical to stop and possibly reverse a “toppling” toward assisted suicide, euthanasia, and the further devaluing of human life—a continuum on which the “right to die” has proven to become the “duty to die.”

Healthcare Rights of Conscience

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 health care 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 rights of conscience.

Model Legislation: Healthcare Rights 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.


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