WORKING TO ADDRESS ABORTION VIOLENCE FROM LIFE’S EARLIEST MOMENTS
2021 & 2022 State Legislative Sessions Report
OVERVIEW: Only a few years from our 2019 founding, Students for Life Action (SFLAction) is having a significant impact on a legislative agenda that prioritizes defending life in law and in service from the earliest days of pregnancy. We’re proud to add our efforts to a nearly 50-year endeavor by the pro-life movement to restore protections to preborn Americans and protect them from the violence of abortion. The SFLAction team works to defend life from conception to natural death, with a particular focus on early abortion, working with and on behalf of Millennials and Gen Z, now the largest voting bloc at 31% of the electorate.
As Students for Life Action President Kristan Hawkins recently wrote in a letter to Congress, “According to the CDC, more than 9 out of 10 abortions take place by 12 weeks (92.7%), which means that if we are not focusing on limiting early abortions, we are not really addressing the violence of abortion at all. And after 50 years, it’s time for a real conversation in legislatures, communities, churches, and courts on how to protect life in law and in service.”
In 2019, SFLAction prioritized recruitment and team building as well as its first piece of model legislation, geared toward assisting in the adoption process in Virginia, where our national headquarters are located. But in the next two legislative sessions, the Pro-Life Generation made real strides in carving out new legislative paths for the vulnerable preborn.
With the reversal of Roe v. Wade on the horizon via the Supreme Court’s impending ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson poised to send decisions about abortion law back to each state, Students for Life Action (SFLAction) has been hard at work preparing for a Post-Roe America.
Thanks to decades of unyielding work by pro-life advocates – too many of whom have passed on before seeing this historic moment come to pass – our opponents in the abortion industry have seen their power over the national narrative and legislative strategy diminish. Gone are their days of duping Americans into believing that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare” without challenge and strategic pro-life opposition.
Today, the abortion lobby’s biggest players have been forced to own their real goal, which was never women’s empowerment or healthcare, but the protection of abortion at any cost. As The Washington Post recently noted: “Planned Parenthood’s [president] McGill Johnson said the group would now use a term like ‘pro-abortion,’ a drastic change from the group’s rhetoric even a few years ago.”
Indeed, much has changed in the abortion landscape since just “a few years ago.” Today, the abortion industry is on the defensive. Roe is on its way to the ash heap of history where it belongs. And a new fight has already begun: A fight to protect life in law, from the moment of conception, one state at a time.
SFLAction has taken its place at the forefront of that battle, mobilizing the national, grassroots pro-life army of millions built up by its sister organization, Students for Life of America (SFLA), over the last 16 years. With this grassroots-oriented approach, SFLAction has already established its influence at both the state and national level.
SFLAction BY THE NUMBERS in the 2021 & 2022 State Legislative Sessions
Nationally, the pro-life movement is on the offensive and wields legislative momentum as it relates to abortion. Figures from The Guttmacher Institute reveal that in the 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions combined, well over one thousand pro-life laws were introduced.
The Guttmacher Institute reports that, as of April 15, 536 pro-life bills had been introduced in 2022— an expected decrease from 2021, which was a record year for pro-life legislation. In 2021, in fact, more than one hundred of the 663 pro-life bills introduced were enacted into law — a number that prompted Guttmacher to label 2021 “the most damaging antiabortion state legislative session ever.”
The quantity of laws introduced and enacted in 2022 is down, as expected, with some pro-life states having assumed a watch-and-wait posture in anticipation of the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling by the Supreme Court, based on which they will craft their next round of pro-life policy.
However, 2022 was a record year for the introduction and enactment of early protections, with many states being galvanized by Texas’ successful 2021 Heartbeat Law to introduce legislation protecting children earlier in pregnancy than they may have previously thought possible.
Over the last two legislative sessions, SFLAction has solidified its reputation as the national pro-life policy organization that champions the strongest protections possible in each state where we were engaged. And the math reflects this.
Over the last two legislative sessions, SFLAction:
- Tracked and monitored more than 1,000 abortion-related bills
- Engaged in pro-life legislative battles in 30 states
- Sent more than 1M text messages in support of pro-life bills
- Made more than 180,000 phone calls to pro-life constituents
- Generated nearly 300,000 calls and emails from pro-life constituents to their legislators
- Organized more than 100 lobby days, both in-person and virtual
- Collected more than 150,000 petitions from voters
- Inspired or helped introduce 15 bills at both the state and federal level
- Supported hundreds of pro-life bills & opposed amendments to weaken them
- Helped to pass dozens of lifesaving pro-life bills
- Opposed & helped kill dozens of abortion expansion bills
SFLAction is the only grassroots mobilizing force of its kind in the pro-life movement. With activists trained and ready to mobilize in all 50 states, SFLAction can get boots on the ground, onto a Senate floor, on the phone with a legislator, or knocking on doors to mobilize community members at a moment’s notice because we are already working in all 50 states.
SFLAction has multiplied our resources into big results by rapidly responding in support of urgent legislative priorities in ways that no other organization of its kind can, thanks to the grassroots army already fighting for life on campuses and in communities nationwide.
- Students and team members tabling at a local campus have packed up and headed to their state capitol to testify
- A handful of students banded together to text constituents in a district, garnering more than 5,000 emails from constituents to legislators
- In Kansas, SFLAction spent $200 sharing a video of a pensive pro-life legislator holding up a key pro-life vote with his constituents, resulting in him voting correctly the very next day.
Throughout the 2021 and 2022 sessions, SFLAction remained aggressive in seeking as many pro-life wins as possible and has utilized every moment of the last two legislative sessions to prepare state after state for the Post-Roe America that has already begun.
The Fine Print: Bills and Measures in Motion
SFLAction Inspired and Helped Introduce the Following Bills at the State and Federal Levels:
- AL-HB261:Chemical Abortion Ban
- AL-HB377: Chemical Abortion Ban
- AZ-HB2810: Life Begins at Conception Act
- AZ-HB2811: Chemical Abortion Ban
- IA-HF331: Chemical Abortion Ban
- MI-HB5445: Heartbeat Law
- MS-HB1368: Life Begins at Conception Act
- WY-SF0083: Chemical Abortion Ban
- SD-HB1208: Chemical Abortion Ban
- NH-HB4577: Heartbeat Law
- OK-SB612: Life Begins at Conception Act
- OH-HB480: Life Begins at Conception Act
- WV-SB595: Chemical Abortion Ban
- Federal, H.R. 7294: Pregnant Students’ Rights Act
- Federal, H.R. 4607 & S. 240: Protecting Life on College Campus Act
- MA-HD1451: Chemical Abortion Restriction
- MT-HB 171: Chemical Abortion Restriction
- TX-HB2337: Chemical Abortion Restriction
- OK-SB778: Chemical Abortion Restriction
- AZ-HB1457: Chemical Abortion Restriction
- AR-HB1402: Chemical Abortion Restriction
- KY-HB460: Chemical Abortion Restriction
- MD-HB1198: Chemical Abortion Restriction
- SD-HB1318: Chemical Abortion Restriction
- KY-HB3: Omnibus Pro-Life Bill with Chemical Abortion Restrictions
- OH-SB304: Chemical Abortion Restriction
- GA-SB456: Chemical Abortion Restriction
- SC-HB4568: Chemical Abortion Restriction
- MS-HB1511: Chemical Abortion Restriction
SFLAction Helped to Pass the Following Life Saving Bills
- AR-SB6: Life Begins at Conception Act
- OK-SB612: Life Begins at Conception Act
- ID-HB366: Heartbeat Law
- MT-HB 140: Ultrasound Requirement, Informed Consent
- MT-HB 167: Born Alive Infants Protection Act
- MT-HB 171: Chemical Abortion Restriction
- MT-HB136: Pain Capable Abortion Ban
- TX-SB8: Heartbeat Law
- TX-HB1280: Trigger Law
- OK SB778: Chemical Abortion Restriction
- AZ SB1457: Chemical Abortion Restriction
- IN HB1577: Chemical Abortion Restriction
- AR HB1402: Chemical Abortion Restriction
- SD HB 1318: Chemical Abortion Restriction
- KY HB3: Omnibus and Chemical Abortion Restriction
- FL-HB5: 15 Week Abortion Ban
- SC-S1: Heartbeat Law
- IN-HB1190: Free Speech on Campus Act
Oklahoma: A Case Study for Success: Students for Life Action team members worked with state legislators to build a vision and a framework for protecting life in law as well as in service, as reported here on SFLAction’s blog:
After working closely with Students for Life Action (SFLAction) on the measure, the Oklahoma state legislature has just passed its Life At Conception bill, becoming the second state after Arkansas to pass a SFLAction-supported bill of its kind since last session. SFLAction is celebrating this major win for life, and the icing on the cake is that we’re not the only ones who are freaking out over the legislative victory: the media and Planned Parenthood are, too.
But they are stirred up over this triumph for a different reason. Planned Parenthood and its mainstream media allies are appalled at the influence SFLAction had on the outcome of Oklahoma’s Life at Conception bill. Not only that, but they’re taking notes and clearly realizing that when SFLAction works with legislators, we mean business—and we get our business done. Here’s a sampling of what they said about our involvement with the Oklahoma Life at Conception bill.
A Pat on the Back from CNN:
In an article entitled, “Oklahoma Legislature Passes Near-Total Ban on Abortion,” CNN author Veronica Stracqualursi gave SFLAction credit for working behind the scenes on the passage of the bill, writing, “Legislators had worked closely on the bill with the national anti-abortion group Students for Life, which celebrated the bill’s final passage on Tuesday.”
The Wall Street Journal Echoed CNN:
In an article with a twin title to the CNN piece, the Wall Street Journal reports that Oklahoma’s Life at Conception bill is “one of the most sweeping bans passed this year.” They also credited SFLAction quoting SFLAction President Kristan Hawkins that the Oklahoma legislature “is acknowledging that we are valuable human beings no matter how small.” instigator of the victory quoting SFLAction President Kristan Hawkins’ statement that the Oklahoma legislature “is acknowledging that we are valuable human beings no matter how small.”
“Protection At Conception” is SFLAction’s Goal — And It’s Attainable
SFLAction’s legislative goal is to see the strongest pro-life protections possible enacted at every level of government.
To this end, SFLAction and SFLA have long stood firmly against discriminatory carveouts, especially rape and incest exceptions, made to otherwise strong pro-life legislation. In April, 2022, the Los Angeles Times reported: “Support from groups like Students for Life helped give political life to more stringent abortion bans once viewed as politically impossible.” The LA Times continues, quoting legal scholar and author Mary Ziegler, who acknowledged: “Groups like Students for Life were embracing positions that [the mainstream antiabortion movement] wouldn’t have, at least as openly.”
SFLAction also trailblazed the trend of Life Begin at Conception laws, which have now passed in numerous states. SFLAction vocally rejected the popular notion that consensus could only be solidified around protecting children from late-term abortions. With 95% of abortion victims being killed in the first trimester, SFLAction rejected attempts to solidify pro-life support around 15-week abortion bans and instead went all-in for early protections. We worked with stalwart legislators who were committed to casting a much wider net of safety for the preborn and their mothers — and this strategy proved correct.
In Oklahoma, SFLAction’s Sarah Zarr first encouraged legislators to pursue Life At Conception protections. WORLD reports:
In March 2021, Sarah Zarr with Students for Life Action sat at a conference table with lawmakers from the Oklahoma House Public Health Committee. State Rep. Jim Olsen yielded his time to her, and she laid out the details of a pro-life bill sponsored by Olsen that Students for Life activists had been working on for months: It offered near-blanket protection of unborn babies from abortion.
After SFLAction mobilized the grassroots and closely collaborated with members of the Oklahoma House and Senate throughout the process, victory was secured for the preborn: The Oklahoma Life At Conception Act was signed into law.
Achievements like these are garnering attention. TIME Magazine highlighted the organization as one of the nation’s “powerful conservative groups.”
Because of this principled refusal to settle for less than the maximum available protections for the preborn, figures gathered by the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute suggest that stronger pro-life protections — such as Life At Conception laws and Heartbeat laws — have overtaken weaker, 15-week abortion bans as the more popular strategy among pro-life policymakers.
These strong pro-life protections are even more necessary when juxtaposed to the strategy of the abortion industry, which is scrambling to expand abortion in unprecedented and radical ways – like declaring a child has no rights under state law and codifying the tenets of Roe into state constitutions
We are in an historic moment, and SFLAction does not accept regulating or curtailing abortion as the goal. The goal is protection at conception, and incremental strategies such as regulating Chemical Abortion Pills and curtailing abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy are tools that help us to incrementally achieve that goal of the total abolition of abortion; they are not the goal themselves.
In addition to Life Begins at Conception laws, Chemical Abortion bans, and Heartbeat laws, some states also need constitutional amendments in order to establish the framework for defending life in law. In Kansas, SFLAction was a key player in getting the Value Them Both constitutional amendment onto the ballot to protect the state’s right to enact pro-life laws. This move was the result of a multi-year effort in which SFLAction aided in primarying fake pro-life politicians and replacing them with stalwart officials who are committed to protecting life in law.
SFLAction Is Preparing States for A Post-Roe America
Preparing states for a Post-Roe America involves making abortion both unavailable and unthinkable, addressing both the supply and the demand sides of abortion.
SFLAction is addressing abortion supply through such efforts as: helping states to regulate or block Chemical Abortion Pill peddlers from preying on women in their states, helping legislators craft strong early abortion bans, and aggressively opposing abortion lobby schemes to empower non-physicians to commit abortions. We address the demand for abortion by ensuring states allocate resources and support services for the women and families most targeted by the abortion industry — a strategy informed by data, as women themselves report that it is a lack of support and resources that drives them through abortion facility doors.
Texas is one state that approached both the supply and demand sides of abortion in its 2021 biannual legislative session and has a marked decrease in abortion deaths to show for it.
Addressing Abortion Supply
SFLAction advocated for Texas’ efforts to cripple the supply of abortion in the state by testifying and lobbying for numerous abortion bans and restrictions, including the novel Texas Heartbeat Law and the new Chemical Abortion Pill regulations.
At a local level in Texas, SFLAction also organized a deployment of grassroots activists in the city of Lubbock to ensure the passage of the Sanctuary City for the Unborn Ordinance alongside local pro-life allies. The ordinance outlaws abortion within city limits and resulted in Planned Parenthood closing its abortion business in that locale, dealing a serious blow to abortion supply in Texas.
Addressing Abortion Demand
The Guttmacher Institute found that women pay for abortions because “Having a baby would dramatically interfere with their education, work or ability to care for their dependents, or they could not afford a baby at the time.” The same analysis found that post-abortive women “typically” report having felt “that they had no other choice, given their limited resources and existing responsibilities to others.”
Despite the abortion lobby once claiming it envisioned abortion being “rare,” it is pro-life advocates – not abortion supporters – who listen to these root factors that drive women to choose abortion and address them.
In Texas’ effort to address both the supply and demand sides of abortion last session, the state legislature authorized an increase in funding to the state’s Alternatives to Abortion (A2A) program, which exists to connect the women and families most targeted by abortion with the resources they need to thrive and reject abortion. SFLAction also testified in support of the Every Mother Matters Act (EMMA), which aims to “tear down the information barrier” standing between pregnant women and the resources they need to embrace life. In its effort to assist states in preparing for a Post-Roe America, SFLAction has mobilized in support of “EMMA” legislation in numerous states.
At SFLAction, we firmly believe that solidifying our movement’s victory over abortion in culture requires us to show America that the Pro-Life Generation is working to address not only the supply, but also the demand, and that we do this by addressing the problems that drive women to view abortion as their only choice. We commend the states for working to craft laws that will make abortion both unthinkable and unavailable.
SFLAction has established itself as the premier, pro-life, grassroots activator in the nation, able to mobilize activists in virtually any location nationwide thanks in large part to the 16 years of work its sister organization, Students for Life of America (SFLA), which invested in growing and cultivating the on-the-ground pro-life army ready to reverse Roe and protect life in law in all 50 states. And over the last three years, innovative efforts have become law.
As the Washington Post recently reported, Students for Life Action is committed to effective legislation that works to change the abortion-centered dynamic prevalent for five decades.
“This is a whole new ballgame,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life Action, one of the country’s biggest antiabortion groups, said in an interview. “The 50 years of standing at the Supreme Court’s door waiting for something to happen is over.”
To engage with Students for Life Action, follow us on Twitter @SFLAction.