As God is the Author of life, Family Research Council recognizes and respects the inherent dignity of every human life from conception until death. We work to pass federal and state legislation that highlights this principle, including laws that protect the unborn.
The maps below illustrate progress in the states on key pro-life laws. FRC educates policymakers, grassroots activists, and the general public about the benefits of such laws in building a culture of life – where every human life is valued as an intrinsic good, not something whose value is conditional upon its usefulness to others or to the state.
On June 24th, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to uphold Mississippi’s law protecting unborn life at 15 weeks gestation and went even further by overturning Roe v. Wade, the case that legalized abortion on demand in all 50 states in 1973. This historic ruling has restored state’s abilities to once again enact and enforce laws to protect the unborn. State-level pro-life laws that have been dormant for decades are now back in play, with many states having laws to protect unborn life from conception. With Roe finally overturned, the battle now heads to state courts as the abortion industry continues to challenge state’s pro-life laws.
This map gives an overview of the abortion laws currently on the books in each state. However, state courts will decide which of these laws will ultimately be enforced. States with pro-life laws that are currently blocked pending litigation are displayed with orange, diagonal lines. This map focuses on four main categories of protections for the unborn, ranging from protecting unborn life at conception to not protecting unborn life at all:
- Protect Unborn Life at Conception (18 states) – These laws protect unborn life from conception (these may contain exceptions for rape, incest, fetal anomaly, or the life of the mother) and come in three different forms: a law that existed prior to Roe, has been passed since Roe, or was conditional upon Roe being overturned.
- Protect Unborn Life When a Heartbeat Is Detected (4 states) – These laws protect unborn life when a fetal heartbeat can be detected (generally between 5-6 weeks gestation).
- Protect Unborn Life Based on Gestational Age (7 states) – These laws protect unborn life at a specific gestational age. Many of them protect unborn children when they can feel pain, or at the point an unborn child is believed to be viable outside the womb.
Do not protect life
- Do Not Protect Unborn Life (21 states) – These states allow legal abortions throughout the entirety of pregnancy. Some do not have any laws protecting unborn life, and others allow abortion up to the moment of birth through a “health” exception. In these states “health” is defined so broadly as to effectively allow abortions throughout pregnancy for nearly any reason, including the mental or emotional health of the mother.
Click on the map below to see what pro-life laws may be in effect in your state. For more information, read our Issue Analysis at frc.org/postroe
Protects unborn life at conception
Protects unborn life when the child’s heartbeat is detected
Protects unborn life based on gestational age
Does not protect unborn life
PRO-LIFE LAWS NOT IN EFFECT
Additional Pro-life Maps
Abortion is dehumanizing to both mothers and their unborn children. State fetal dignity laws use a variety of means to promote and protect the dignity of the unborn. The need for such laws is clear: Whether it's abortionists like Dr. Kermit Gosnell in Pennsylvania and Dr. Ulrich Klopfer in Illinois (who were caught hoarding the remains of the unborn they had aborted), or America's foremost purveyor of abortion, Planned Parenthood (who was caught on tape in 2015 selling aborted baby body parts), the abortion industry's horrific practices dehumanize and desensitize all of us.
Fortunately, many states have stepped forward to enact laws which recognize the inherent dignity of the unborn by reaffirming their basic humanity. This map tracks five types of state laws:
- Prohibiting the transfer of fetal tissue harvested from the unborn during an abortion
- Requiring the remains of the unborn after an abortion to be buried or cremated
- Banning the use of fetal tissue for research
- Prohibiting the sale or profit of aborted baby body parts
- Providing death certificates for stillborn and miscarried babies
All five types of laws are important to recognizing and protecting the dignity of unborn children. Click on a state to see whether and how it protects fetal dignity. For more information, read our Issue Analysis “Respecting the Unborn through Fetal Dignity Laws” (frc.org/fetaldignity).
Born-Alive laws require that medical care be provided to infants born alive during an attempted abortion. In 2002, Congress passed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which clarified that infants who survive abortion are persons under the law but did not include any legal enforcement. In the ensuing years states have passed varying levels of born-alive protections to make up for the lack of federal enforceability.
Currently, 38 states have at least some born-alive protections. However, only 18 states have the three elements of strong born-alive protections, which are reflected in the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, currently pending in Congress:
- a requirement that practitioners must exercise professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life of infants who survive abortion;
- a requirement that surviving infants be immediately transported to a hospital and/or requiring the presence of a second physician during the abortion; and
- legal penalties for abortionists who do not comply.
At this moment, federal law and 32 states do not adequately protect the lives of infants who survive abortion.
Click on a state to see its born-alive protections