DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - Right-to-life advocates are celebrating after voters in West Virginia and Alabama added pro-life language to their state constitutions on Tuesday.
In West Virginia, 52 percent of voters backed Amendment 1, affirming that "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion."
Sixty percent of Alabama voters passed Amendment 2, which declares "it is the public policy of this state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, most importantly the right to life in all manners and measures appropriate and lawful." It also states: "The constitution of this state does not protect the right to abortion or require the funding of abortion."
The two amendments represent major pro-life advances; if the conservative-majority Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortion would immediately be outlawed in both states.
Speaking to The Daily Beast, Leslie McGorman, deputy policy director for abortion lobby group NARAL Pro-Choice America, voiced concern over the referendums, noting other states could follow suit.
"They are definitely considering this as a way to open the door to ban abortion," she said.
The passage of Amendment 1 continues a positive trend toward recognizing the dignity of the unborn in West Virginia. Historically, the state has had a notoriously permissive abortion regime, but in recent years that has begun to change.
In 2014, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a Catholic, rallied fellow pro-lifers: "In West Virginia, abortion is legally permitted until birth — one of nine states where that is allowed. I will gladly defend new laws that change this terrible fact. Let's do something about our lack of protection for unborn children now."
The next year, Morrisey helped push through the state's Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a ban on abortion after 20 weeks.
West Virginia remains one of 17 states where abortion is publicly funded. Laws criminalizing abortion and banning Medicaid funding for the procedure are on the books, but are not in effect owing to court rulings declaring them unconstitutional. Amendment 1 is an important step toward changing that.
Amendment 1 was passed in spite of Catholic Sen. Joe Manchin's refusal to back it. Though a self-declared "pro-life Democrat," Manchin hobnobs with Planned Parenthood supporters and has earned a 72 percent positive rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America. On Tuesday, he defeated Morrisey's bid to unseat him.
The passage of Amendment 2 is a similar sign of improvement in Alabama. Pro-life group Americans United for Life (AUL) recognizes the state as one of its "All Stars," owing to strides made since Republicans gained control of the state legislature in 2010.
For example, in 2017, lawmakers in Montgomery passed the Adoption Tax Credit Bill, giving residents who adopt a child either through a private agency or through the state foster care system a one-time $1,000 income tax credit, applicable to the tax year in which the adoption is finalized. Amendment 2 builds on that progress.
Pro-life advocates across the country view these developments with hope, especially in light of Judge Brett Kavanaugh's recent confirmation to the Supreme Court. Anticipation is building that an end to Roe v. Wade may be approaching, which would allow each state to decide its own abortion policy.
"West Virginia and Alabama both highlighted that when left up to the American people they are pro-life," March For Life Vice President Tom McClusky said in a Wednesday statement. "Other states should follow their example and prepare for the inevitable when abortion is unthinkable."