Fact Check: State Pro-Life Laws Explicitly Protect Lives of Pregnant Women
Despite Pro-Abortion Misinformation, Plain Reading of Actual Laws Shows Necessary Medical Care is Protected
Washington, D.C. – A new Charlotte Lozier Institute legal and medical analysis shows that all 23 states with strong pro-life laws currently on the books allow necessary and timely medical treatment for miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and other procedures necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman.
Mary E. Harned, J.D., a CLI legal scholar who previously served as an Investigative Counsel with the Select Investigative Panel of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, explained:
“A plain reading of any of these statutes easily refutes the false and dangerous misinformation being spread by pro-abortion activists. Further, none of these laws prohibit a medical professional from acting as necessary when facing a life-threatening medical emergency. To claim otherwise is either ignorance of the law or willful misrepresentation at the expense of women and their unborn children who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”
CLI’s new analysis, Pro-Life Laws Protect Mom and Baby: Pregnant Women’s Lives are Protected in All States, includes relevant summaries of each state’s laws, plain-language citations from the text of each law, and citations from American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) practice bulletins.
As just one example, Louisiana’s pro-life law states:
“It shall not be a violation … for a licensed physician to perform a medical procedure necessary in reasonable medical judgement to prevent the death or substantial risk of death due to a physical condition, or to prevent the serious, permanent impairment of a life-sustaining organ of a pregnant woman.”
As another example, the Texas pro-life law specifically excludes abortions where:
“In the exercise of reasonable medical judgement, the pregnant female on whom the abortion is performed, induced, or attempted has a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy that places the female at risk of death or poses a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function unless the abortion is performed or induced.”
Dr. Ingrid Skop, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., a board-certified OB/GYN who has delivered more than 5,000 babies and walked with countless women through challenging and traumatic pregnancies, added:
“Over and over again, state pro-life laws, including in my home state of Texas, direct doctors to use their reasonable medical judgement. What’s reasonable? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has published dozens and dozens of bulletins that provide specific medical guidance for treating pregnant women experiencing both common and uncommon complications during pregnancy. When I read pro-abortion media reports quoting doctors as saying they are unsure what action they can take in the Dobbs era, I have to ask if the doctors have read the law and if they’ve read the ACOG bulletins that are commonly used as guidance by OB/GYNs.
“While some state laws contain definitions specifying exclusions for ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage, naming those conditions isn’t necessary for doctors to understand what they are permitted to do. Treatment of an ectopic pregnancy is a common obstetric procedure that prevents potentially life-threatening hemorrhage. It is not an induced abortion. Treatment of a miscarriage responds to the heartbreak of the spontaneous death of an unborn child, which is distinct from the intentional killing of a child in an induced abortion.
“Both the law and the medical guidance are in agreement, women facing complications need to be cared for. Pro-life state laws protect the lives of pregnant women and do not interfere with the normal practice of medicine when treating ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages, and other life-threatening pregnancy complications.”
CLI’s state-by-state analysis found that every state pro-life law includes clear exceptions allowing medical treatment to save the life of the mother, and permits treatment for miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy, which can cause life-threatening complications. Several states provide further clarity by specifically excluding treatment for miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy from their definition of abortion.
Click here for CLI’s full state-by-state analysis, including relevant citations, legal analysis, and medical bulletins.
Charlotte Lozier Institute was launched in 2011 as the education and research arm of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. CLI is a hub for research and public policy analysis on some of the most pressing issues facing the United States and nations around the world. The Institute is named for a feminist physician known for her commitment to the sanctity of human life and equal career and educational opportunities for women.