The New Pro-Life Surge
The summer before Katey Tryon's senior year of high school, she got pregnant. Recently split from her boyfriend, she was sad and vulnerable when she hooked up with her older brother's friend. They had sex once. Six weeks later, she was tired and her period was late.
"It was terrifying," Tryon said. "I'm from a small town in Oregon. My parents are pillars in the community. I was born and raised here, fourth generation. So my sin was very apparent." Tryon's parents, both believers, rallied around her. Abortion was out of the question. Two days before high school graduation, Tryon gave birth to a girl and gave her up for adoption.
Tryon enrolled in a Christian college in Portland, determined to turn her life around, but still felt vulnerable. "I started dating a guy who embraced me for what I had just gone through, who understood that I didn't want to have sex until I got married," she said.
But they started sleeping together, and one night the condom didn't work. Over spring break, at an intercollegiate softball tournament, Tryon found out she was pregnant again. Her daughter was nine months old. "My world came crashing down tenfold from the first time," she said.
Abortion was never a serious option, she said, although "trust me, it went through my mind. I recognize why other women go there. You want to get away from your situation. We want to cover up our mistakes and have them all go away."
Tryon found support at a local pregnancy center, which sparked in her a fresh sense of purpose. She gave birth to a boy and gave him up for adoption. She went back to college, double majoring in social work and sociology. Eventually she became the development director at Lane Pregnancy Support Center in Eugene, Oregon.
In April, Tryon testified before the Oregon State Legislature about how a pregnancy center changed her life for the better. A Senate committee was considering a bill to force pregnancy centers to publicly post on doors, in waiting areas, and in brochures that they are not abortion providers. If centers did not post these notices in five days, they could be fined up to $1,000, up to $5,000 if not posted in two weeks.
This is one of many new legislative initiatives on abortion, but the majority of them are working in the other direction.
Flood of Legislation
The Oregon bill is one of 576 measures related to abortion that have been introduced so far in 2011 in 48 states, according to Elizabeth Nash, public policy associate for the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute.
Like the Oregon bill, many of them will never pass committee. Yet by early April, 142 abortion-related provisions had passed at least one chamber of a state legislature, compared with 67 in 2009. More than half of the 142 bills (57 percent) introduced this year seek to restrict abortion access, compared with 38 percent in 2010.
About 40 new anti-abortion laws were on the books by mid-April. They include:
- expanding the waiting period requirement in South Dakota from 24 hours to 72 hours, and requiring women to visit a crisis pregnancy center in the interim.
- requiring a physician who performs an abortion in South Dakota to provide counseling on all risk factors related to abortion.
- allowing any hospital employee in Utah to refuse to "participate in any way" in an abortion.
- making it a felony in Arizona to perform or provide money for abortions sought because of a baby's race or sex.
- prohibiting insurance plans that participate in the state insurance exchange from including abortion coverage in Virginia, Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.