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Pro-life progress, bit by incremental bit

Forty-year-old software engineer Vanessa MacDougal spends most weekdays behind a desk in an Austin, Texas, office. On Jan. 6 the petite blonde did something different. She played dead on sidewalks skirting the Texas governor’s mansion.

Dressed in a skeleton mask and black sweats, and holding a poster that read “Abortion Restrictions Bury Women,” MacDougal told me what compelled her to participate in this, her first protest: “If you can’t control your reproduction, you can’t commit to a career, an education, or even a workout program.” 

Yes, she really said it — even a workout program.

MacDougal and her compadres were there to oppose what they called the “fetal burial law,” a new regulation that bans Texas abortion centers from dumping baby remains in landfills and sewer systems. Officials issued the regulation in November, three months after a state representative made his case on live TV, recounting a 2005 incident in which a woman reported seeing aborted baby body parts among sewage when pipes near a Houston abortion center ruptured.

The code change, of course, met with the ire of abortion providers, who have filed suit. But the new regulation is representative of something happening across the nation: pro-life progress, bit by hard-won bit. Here are some recent examples:

• A month after Texas voted in the burial regulation, Andy Mayberry, an Arkansas state representative, filed House Bill 1032, which would ban “dismemberment abortions” in that state.

• Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed two significant pro-life bills last week. One will require an ultrasound before an abortion. The other put a 20-week abortion ban, known elsewhere as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, into place.

• Ohio passed its version of the act last month, insuring that abortions cannot be performed on pain-capable unborn children.

• Over the weekend, two Sarasota legislators filed HB 203, the Florida Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

If you’re wondering where Mississippi stands on these issues, we’re one of only six states in the country that has banned “dismemberment abortions.”  We require an ultrasound be done before an abortion and that the mother be given the opportunity to view it. We do not have pain-capable legislation in place.

And while these new state laws are far from the ultimate goal of pro-lifers, they do represent success, according to John Stonestreet of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview: “We are seeing how effective it is to go about this incremental strategy. Laws like (these) don’t entirely outlaw abortion, but they allow the pro-life movement to lock in cultural wins … as we move back further and further and further to the moment of conception.”

The cultural wins Stonestreet referenced include a growing pro-life movement among millennials. Last June, Students for Life of America (SFLA) announced they now serve more than 1,043 college, high school, law and medical school, and young professionals pro-life groups across the United States. This means that Students for Life campus pro-life groups now outnumber pro-abortion groups nearly 4-to-1.

“The pro-life message is resonating where it needs to the most, right where the abortion industry targets: college and high school campuses,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “We are meeting students where they are, having passionate and constructive conversations on campus, and changing hearts and minds.”

The cultural shift is even rocking hallowed halls in Washington. A congressional committee investigating the relationship between Planned Parenthood and the baby body parts procurement industry lowered the boom last week, urging Congress to defund Planned Parenthood in light of abuses.

That’s good news, yet Sunday still looms. In Virginia, pro-lifers are pushing for a visual reminder of 44 years of Roe v. Wade and the nearly 60 million babies aborted in its wake. A proposed resolution would encourage residents to lower flags to half-staff on Jan. 22, the “Day of Tears.” 

Pro-Life Mississippi’s Judy Batson and Dana Chisholm are unaware of any legislation pending here in the current session. Progress is found instead in three life-embracing billboards posted in the Jackson area and a nearly-completed Center for Pregnancy Choices. The new CPC has a prime location — just across the street from the state’s only abortion provider.

Wesson resident Kim Henderson is a freelance writer. Contact her at kimhenderson319@gmail.com.