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The Winds of Change
Jacqulyn Dudasko, Ed.D. | 11 November 2021
Abortion advocates are beginning to worry. For the first time in decades, abortion access made available through the landmark Roe v. Wade decision is being threatened. Since May, when the Supreme Court agreed to hear the Mississippi Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, abortion advocates have been lamenting the potential that this case has for changing what they feel is the constitutional right to an abortion. The court’s conservative majority adds to their worry.
Nationwide, without Roe, abortion would be illegal in nearly half of the states. However, in their April analysis, Nash and Cross of the Guttmacher Institute acknowledged that “2021 is on track to become the most devastating antiabortion state legislative session in decades.” As of May 31, 2021, in 48 U.S. state legislatures, a total of approximately 489 pro-life bills (or bills containing at least one pro-life provision) have been advanced.
Life-affirming legislation has ranged from constitutional protections in Kansas that will be voted on in the August 2022 state election, to provisions amending current state law and prohibiting the use of telehealth to provide any abortion, including the writing or filling of a prescription for any purpose that is intended to result in an abortion, to the trigger ban in Texas, and ten additional states that will ban abortion in the state if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
The converging of many aspects of pro-life advocacy has created worry for leaders and individual abortion advocates, as well as organizations that we can all identify from the decades-long battle for the right to life for America's unborn.
Pro-Life Laws: Their Effect
While abortion legislation impacts the number of lives saved, it also has an impact on organizations that advocate for abortion. In the three years between the passage of Texas legislation HB2 and the time it was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, the law forced roughly half of Texas’ abortion clinics to shut their doors. With more than 40 abortion clinics before HB2, the state now has 19 abortion clinics, mostly in major urban areas.
Even as Dobbs can potentially change abortion access across America, laws passed in the 2021 legislative cycle cause concerns for abortionists and their organizations. Among such a law is the Heartbeat Bill. Most Heartbeat Bills prohibit abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Previously considered too extreme, 15 states now have such laws on their books. Calling them near-total abortion bans,  abortion advocates have promised to challenge them.
While the Texas Heartbeat Bill also prohibits abortion once the fetal heartbeat can be detected, it presents an additional punch. Instead of the government enforcing the law, the Texas bill has a provision empowering private citizens to sue abortion providers or anyone who helps a woman get an abortion after the fetal heartbeat has been detected. This could be the person driving the woman to the abortion clinic to the nurse who facilitated the woman's intake at the clinic. Anyone. And it is exactly this provision that casts a long shadow across abortionists and their advocates operating in the state.
Even before it took effect on September 1st, doctors, clergy, and clinic owners sued to block the law. Reverend Dr. Daniel Kanter, senior minister at First Unitarian Church in Dallas, Texas, for the past 20 years, worries that religious leaders like himself could be targeted under the law for counseling someone who is considering terminating a pregnancy. Kanter, along with several doctors, clinics, and clergy, joined with lawyers at the Center for Reproductive Rights, the ACLU, and Planned Parenthood to file a lawsuit in Austin to stop the Heartbeat Bill from taking effect.
Dr. Bhavik Kumar, an abortionist for six years, most recently at the Planned Parenthood Canter for Choice in Houston, echoed Reverend Kantar’s sentiments. To Dr. Kumar, the threat of the Heartbeat Bill gives him pause about continuing to provide abortions. “To think about contending with maybe one lawsuit, maybe hundreds of lawsuits? Maybe many of those are trivial and will go away with time, but it’s still very daunting to think about.”
The battle to protect the lives of the unborn continues, and abortion advocates are even more concerned. Unfortunately, the value of life has never been a consideration for these individuals and organizations. What is on full display is their true focus, money, and personal gain. A focus threatened by laws that continue to provide a voice for the unborn, for saving lives, and for protecting women.
 Nash, Elizabeth and Cross, Lauren, "2021 is on track to become the most devastating antiabortion state legislative session in decades." Guttmacher Institute, 2021. https://www.guttmacher.org/article/2021/04/2021-track-become-most-devastating-antiabortion-state-legislative-session-decades
 Grossu, Arina, Overview of U. S. pro-life bills and provisions advanced and laws enacted from January to May 2021." Charlotte Lozier Institute, Jun 8, 2021. https://lozierinstitute.org/overview-of-u-s-pro-life-bills-and-provisions-advanced-and-laws-enacted-from-january-to-may-2021-pro-life-banner-year-as-states-continue-to-reject-the-radical-abortion-agenda/
 North, Anna and Kim, Catherine, "The “heartbeat” bills that could ban almost all abortions, explained." Vox, 2019. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/4/19/18412384/abortion-heartbeat-bill-georgia-louisiana-ohio-2019
 Stuart, Tessa, "Doctors, clergy sue over new Texas law that offers $10,000 bounty on abortions." Rolling Stone, 2021. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/texas-abortion-law-10000-bounty-1193591/
 Stuart, Tessa, "An abortion provider discusses his biggest fears over Texas’ abortion “bounty” law." Rolling Stone, 2021. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/sb-8-texas-abortion-law-10000-dollar-bounty-1194953/
Jacqulyn Dudasko, Ed.D.
Education & Policy Director
Texans for Life Coalition