From the SFLA Blog

Why Every State Needs a ‘Life at Conception’ Bill

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Caroline Wharton - 02 Feb 2022
Why Every State Needs a ‘Life at Conception’ Bill
Guest Post by Lily Branham, Students for Life Action Political Operations Manager

GUEST POST: There is widespread speculation that Roe could be reversed or greatly weakened on or before June—and this demands bold, pro-life leadership from Pro-Life Americans.  At Students for Life Action (SFLAction), we are preparing for a Post-Roe America by introducing Life at Conception Bills in states across the country. Life at Conception Bills protect human lives from abortion starting at the very moment life begins because a person’s a person no matter how small. Our strategy champions a law that reflects what the pro-life movement actually desires – saving as many babies from abortion as possible – because we know that life begins at conception when egg and sperm combine resulting in a new, unique life. 

Life at Conception Bills are the best strategy to protect life in law especially as more than 9 of 10 abortions take place by 12 weeks, according to the CDC. SFLAction will proudly fight for the protection of all preborn children—no matter the circumstances of their conception, regardless of whether they are “viable,” or whether it’s been proven yet that they can feel pain.  

Recently, SFLAction was very involved in supporting Sen. Jason Rapert’s Senate Bill 6 in Arkansas through grassroots activism. We worked to thwart backdoor efforts to weaken and strip many of the protections in the bill by contacting nearly 200,000 constituents to ask them to contact their legislators and demand passage without amendment. Following this victory, we are taking this model to legislators across the country to ensure every state is prepared for a Post-Roe America.  

The key features of Life at Conception legislation are: 

  • Preborn children are protected at all stages of development from the violence of abortion. 
  • Women are protected from the predatory abortion industry. 
  • Abortion is made a felony for abortionists while protecting the mother in crisis from legal repercussions.  

To read the full text of the law, click here.  

Common Questions About Life at Conception Bills:  

For many members of the pro-life movement, Life at Conception Bills can be difficult to understand. Here are several common questions about Life at Conception bills and our answers.  

Do Life at Conception Bills hurt states’ existing pro-life laws?  

As with anything, there are a variety of legal opinions on this topic. However, SFLAction legal counsel believes that upon Roe’s reversal, there would be no adverse effect of having multiple pro-life laws in place. In fact, our legal counsel believes that having trigger laws, Life at Conception laws, and Chemical Abortion bans would strengthen legal clarity by identifying multiple avenues used frequently today by Corporate Abortion to end preborn life.  

Will a Life at Conception Bill punish women?  

No. Our legislation has a specific exemption for women to protect them as they are a second victim of an industry that preys on women in a moment of crisis by selling them short and then selling them an abortion. Instead, our bill targets the abortion industry who lies to and profits off of vulnerable women. SB6 and other Life at Conception bills that SFLAction supports do make abortion a felony for abortionists.  

Should we wait until after the Dobbs v. Jackson decision to pass pro-life legislation? 

No. Waiting until after Dobbs means delaying protections for the preborn for a year or more. Even if Dobbs doesn’t reverse Roe fully, we will want Life at Conception Bills ready to challenge the new legal system and establish justice for the babies being killed by abortion. SFLAction’s Life at Conception legislation presents a further challenge to the Supreme Court so that states can protect children from the violence of abortion at the moment of conception. This would be constitutional as abortion is never mentioned in the Constitution thereby leaving that issue in the hands of state legislators. 

What about a 15-week ban? 

First, SFLAction supports any pro-life effort that can save babies. However, with limited time and other resources in the pro-life movement, there are some strategies that should be prioritized over others.  

Several pro-life legislators and groups are now championing 15-week abortion bans in reaction to Dobbs, but this limits our movement. In the event of achieving the ability to do a 15-week ban after a positive Dobbs decision, most children will still not be protected. In fact, according to the CDC (which doesn’t include states with no abortion reporting laws), more than 92% of abortions happen before 13 weeks.  Think of it this way: When we advocate for babies on the sidewalk of an abortion facility, we don’t plead for the mothers to just not abort after 15 weeks; we want their baby protected regardless of the gestational period. We want to save as many lives as we can no matter how many weeks old.  

Many in the pro-life movement like the talking point that preborn children can feel pain at 15-weeks. In fact, research indicates that preborn babies can feel pain as early as 12 weeks of pregnancy – just 3 months along. This is amazing and true—but it is also true that life begins at conception, and we should be just as amazed and excited to share that truth with others as the truth of when children can start feeling pain.  

It is human nature to choose an easier path over a harder one. Legislators are people too, and when presented with “less controversial” pro-life legislation, they may choose that path over a better strategy. If we as a pro-life movement demand only a 15-week ban on abortion, that may be all we get from our state legislatures this year as legislatures often focus on one pro-life law a session. We don’t need state legislatures to just modernize our laws, making them more in line with Europe; we need them to abolish abortion. 

Where We’re Going This Session  

SFLAction has identified the following states as great candidates for passing Life at Conception Bills:  

  • Arizona 
  • Idaho 
  • Louisiana 
  • Mississippi  
  • Ohio  
  • Oklahoma  
  • Tennessee  
  • Florida 

Join SFLAction to call upon legislators to protect life at all stages by signing our petition and signing up for a student activism trip.    

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