The political climate facing the United States of America continues to be a major debate as the nation enters into the final leg of the presidential race. The importance of pro-life US Supreme Court nominations cannot be understated. But voting to replace the current President is only one way in which the pro-life movement can be advanced. Attention must be focused on both the state and local levels as well.
The Big Impact of Small Scale
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that local governments can often be overlooked in favor of largescale politics. But it’s critical that the impact of voting on a local and state level should not be underestimated in the nation’s haste to choose the next executive leader.
Although presidential elections allow voters to make a difference at a congressional level—voting in state races to fill Senate and House seats, or even county positions, are powerful opportunities for each citizen’s voice to be heard. Yet, according to the Knight Foundation, 36.3% of the population voted in the 2014 midterm elections and only 1 in 5 eligible voters showed up for mayoral elections.
Though the statistics are shockingly low, those who do vote are the citizens that form the state government from the bottom up. After all, these smaller-level elections may prove to be the first rung in the political ladder of an officeholder. As seen with Barack Obama who started out as an aggressive pro-abortion Senator in the Illinois legislature before ultimately becoming the current president who’s infamous for inflicting Obamacare and abortion-minded US Supreme Court justices on our country.
But beyond having the ability to choose the next contender in a major political race, state and county governments also provide convenient legislative access to all of their constituents. In other words, local elections allow citizens to decide on the hot topic issues that may directly affect protecting the unborn. Including giving them the decision-making power over referendums that make their way onto local ballots that rarely, if ever, require an act from Congress or the president.
States are far from being the underdogs of the political world. Their ability to directly save lives through passed legislation should not be left ignored but, rather, recognized for the standards that they set.
Earlier in the year, Florida Governor Rick Scott made local headlines when he signed into law a requirement that issued a 24 hour waiting period for women wanting abortions. Though the bill won widespread support from the Republican-controlled legislature and the local public, it wasn’t without controversy.
It’s also not the first state to set parameters on abortion as they focus on the localized needs of their citizens. Currently there are 27 states that incorporate waiting periods into their abortion laws or mandates. The waiting periods range anywhere from 18 to 72 hours, and some even specify further stipulations. In total, over half of the American women between the ages of 15 and 44 live in a state with abortion waiting periods.
The Guttmacher Institute, also known as the research arm of Planned Parenthood, issued a report in 2014 that admitted that Missouri’s enacted 24-hour wait time did result in a lower abortion rate over a two year period—17% to be exact. In their own words, Guttmacher studies showed, “a statistically significant association between mandatory counseling and waiting period laws and abortion rates.”
Therefore proving that waiting periods do, in fact, save lives.
It’s also worth mentioning that Jonathan Klick, at the University of Pennsylvania’s Law School, studied competing pro-life and pro-abortion claims on laws of waiting periods and how they affect the mental health of women. His research uncovered the hidden relationship between a 10% reduction in the rate of adult female suicides and abortion waiting periods.
This isn’t a coincidence. In fact, this is where the importance of voting on a local level is most visible—when elected state officials reflect the opinions of their constituents to protect the lives of both unborn children and their mothers.
Just as states are a reflection of the enumerate powers of national government, they too may be impacted by trifectas held by major political parties.
These state government trifectas occur when one political party holds three positions in a state’s government: the governorship, a majority in the state senate, and a majority in the state house. Currently over half of the 50 states are disposed of trifectas with 23 states belonging to the Republican Party and 7 held by the Democratic Party. This has been a political plus in states controlled by pro-life legislative bodies where pro-life legislation has been passed.
With gubernatorial and legislative party control over the state government, the legalizing consensus of the state is more secure but still vulnerable to local pro-abortion judges, state supreme courts, federal courts or even possibly national action made by Congress or the president. This concept is critical in state lawmaking because the trifecta plays a decisive role in developing and passing legislation on topics such as informed consent, Planned Parenthood funding, assisted suicide and more.
Sometimes the trifecta works against protecting human life. California, whose governing body is composed of a Democratic Party trifecta, recently used this advanced state power to impede the pro-life movement. After two decades of failed attempts, last October California Senators introduced the End of Life Option Act which Governor Jerry Brown signed into law. Through their pro-death actions, California’s governing trifecta effectively dealt a death blow to its citizens by legalizing assisted-suicide in the state of California.
Which begs the question: Who runs your state and where do they stand on LIFE?
Ballotpedia, the online encyclopedia of American politics and elections, identifies 12 state trifectas which may change parties with the 2016 elections. Meaning that millions of citizens across 12 states are voting on more than who will be the next president—but also on who might be the next major party to govern their state and dictate laws that will directly the protection of innocent human life from womb to tomb, whether for better or for worse.
A Call to Action
There are many layers to the American government and, albeit every election is crucial, however, it can be the local ones that have the most immediate impact on our pro-life mission.
With the pro-life movement justifiably eager to show the door to the most notorious pro-abortion president in American history, it’s vital that we keep from getting tunnel vision in our mission to save human lives, born and unborn. That’s why we’ve created a political resource page to help inform you on where the nation and individual states stand on major life issues.
Learn about how all 435 seats in the House of Representatives will be vacant this election or how 34 of the 100 Senate seats will be up for grabs, as well. Discover where your state stands on consent laws and what their anti-coercion policies are. Explore the myriad of states starting to say “yes” to physician assisted suicide or how many are pushing to end Down syndrome abortions. Delve into hot topics like funding for Planned Parenthood and how 68% of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion—including those who identify as “pro-choice.”
All of the major life issues are covered and they’re on our 2016: A Call to Action Resources page. Visit LifeIssues.org/2016/08/2016-call-action-resources to learn more about each topic.
With the upcoming election in November, now is the time to take a stand on life saving issues. Critical decisions are being made this year and your influence over your state government must not be dismissed! We have a significant opportunity to change our culture on behalf of the sanctity of life. Perhaps more than any other time in decades, we have the chance to change the conversation—and legislation—about the value of life and the future of our nation.