Tuesday, January 22, 2013

GUEST COLUMN: "A Stronger America Begins With Protecting Life" by Sen. Portman


This Friday, Americans from across the country will visit our nation’s capital to stand up for life at the 39th annual March for Life. Their message is twofold: innocent life is a precious and unalienable right that must be preserved and Roe v. Wade should not stand.

Our Founding Fathers recognized the value of life when they signed their names beneath the famous words “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life …”

Since the first March for Life almost 40 years ago, hundreds of thousands of Americans have come to their nation’s capital each January to stand up for this right to life for the unborn. As I have before, my staff and I look forward to visiting with marchers from Ohio.

While our nation is divided on whether or not abortion should be legal, on one point there is a growing consensus: we must all work together to reduce the number of abortions. Recent data indicates that more and more Americans agree. This is not surprising. Cutting-edge medical technology can detect a baby’s heartbeat even earlier in a pregnancy and ultrasounds are providing an increasingly advanced look into a baby’s development.

A May 2012 Gallup survey discovered that a record low 41 percent of Americans identify themselves as “pro-choice” and 50 percent now call themselves “pro-life,” one point shy of a record high. A separate Gallup poll found that America’s youth, those between the ages of 18-29, are shifting toward the pro-life position – by as much as 9 percentage points over the past 20 years.

At the same time, data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that the abortion rate in the United States has dropped to an all-time low. According to the latest CDC data, between 2008 and 2009 abortions dropped by 5 percent, the largest decline in the previous decade.

I am proud of my pro-life record throughout my time in public service. I have co-sponsored pro-life measures, including the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act to permanently prohibit federal funding of abortion, and the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, which would allow a health plan to decline coverage of things like abortion that go against the religious or moral beliefs of the person or organization offering or purchasing the plan. I am also a co-sponsor of the Protect Life Act, which prohibits federal funding of abortion in the President’s health care spending law.

But there is much more to do. I am concerned about attempts to circumvent states’ laws concerning abortion for minors. Ohio and the majority of other states require parents’ involvement if their minors have an abortion. Yet, 13 states and the District of Columbia do not have such laws on the books. Minors who live in the states bordering on these outliers are often transported across state lines for abortions as a way to get around their home-state parental involvement requirements.

To clamp down on this practice, I recently introduced the Child Custody Protection Act, which would make it a federal offense to transport a minor across a state line for an abortion if it would circumvent a state law requiring parental involvement in that minor’s abortion. The parental involvement laws of states should not be undermined by crossing state lines. This bill is a good start in putting an end to this practice.

As they have since Roe v. Wade was first handed down in 1973, this year Americans from all walks of life are stepping forward to speak out for the unborn. I salute all Ohioans who are traveling from Ohio to Washington this week to stand and march. You have sacrificed time and money for something much greater than both of those things put together: the sanctity of human life. In many ways the movement has made great progress, especially through new laws and regulations at the state level. Yet there is more to do to protect the sanctity of life and to give the unborn a chance to grow up and live fruitful lives in this blessed nation.