National Right to Life and other pro-life groups sent an “open letter” to lawmakers on Thursday opposing bills that charge mothers with crimes for procuring abortions.
The letter — addressed to “all State Legislators in the United States of America” — cited the leaked Supreme Court majority opinion that would likely overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, noting that there is “increasing news coverage of state-level momentum” to pass abortion regulations.
However, National Right to Life was joined by other pro-life lobbying groups in taking a hard-line stance against passing legislation that imposes criminal penalties upon mothers who seek abortions.
“Women are victims of abortion and require our compassion and support as well as ready access to counseling and social services in the days, weeks, months, and years following an abortion,” the letter said. “As national and state pro-life organizations, representing tens of millions of pro-life men, women, and children across the country, let us be clear: We state unequivocally that any measure seeking to criminalize or punish women is not pro-life and we stand firmly opposed to such efforts.”
The letter was signed by National Right to Life, March for Life Action, Susan B. Anthony List, Democrats for Life, and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Counsel (ERLC), among other groups.
“This will be a tremendous opportunity for states to create durable policy that can stand the test of time,” the letter said in relation to the end of Roe v. Wade. “But in seizing that opportunity, we must ensure that the laws we advance to protect unborn children do not harm their mothers … turning women who have abortions into criminals is not the way.”
The letter was issued on the same day that the Abolition of Abortion in Louisiana Act (HB813) was scheduled for a vote in the Louisiana House of Representatives. The bill — which has gained national and international media attention — recognizes “the right to life and equal protection of the laws to all unborn children from the moment of fertilization by protecting them by the same laws protecting other human beings.” Accordingly, it applies state laws about homicide to children in the womb.
Indeed, a notable exception to the pro-life activists who signed the letter was And Then There Were None founder Abby Johnson, who recently condemned Louisiana Right to Life for opposing HB813. “Either the preborn are fully human or they aren’t,” she said on Twitter. “When abortion is illegal, people must pay the penalty for killing their children. These children deserve justice.”
Zach Conover — the communications director for Christian ministry End Abortion Now, which supports the Abolition of Abortion in Louisiana Act — told The Daily Wire last week that “equal protection simply means the same laws that protect born children from being murdered ought to protect preborn children from the same thing.”
“Every state has a penal code for homicide,” he said. “However, with many of these states there exists within the code an exception for abortion. HB813 removes the exception to ensure that there can be no legal discrimination against babies in the womb.”
Pastor Dusty Deevers — the head of Southern Baptists for Abolishing Abortion — noted that the ERLC signed the letter in spite of a resolution passed by SBC messengers last summer affirming that “the murder of preborn children is a crime against humanity that must be punished equally under the law.”
“The pro-life establishment has unified and exposed themselves as secular and not consistently Christian,” Deevers argued on social media. “Christians need to leave and drain the pro-life establishment swamp. Don’t give them a single dollar to fight the establishment of justice in abolishing abortion.”