By Richard Meek

The Catholic Commentator

A series of bills  approved in several states, especially in the South, have given  momentum to the pro-life movement but have also escalated tensions, said Danielle Van Haute, pro-life director for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.

Statewide, the news continues to be positive as several anti-abortion bills appear to be moving steadily through the Legislature.

Lawmakers in several states, including Alabama, Ohio, Georgia and Missouri, have adopted so-called heartbeat bills, prohibiting abortion from the time a baby’s heartbeat has been detected, traditionally around six weeks. A similar bill was approved in Louisiana and signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards.

If passed, Louisiana’s law would only go into effect if a similar measure previously adopted in Mississippi is upheld in the higher courts, although it was dealt a set back in one federal court.

Van Haute said the backlash on a national level is unfortunate but not surprising.

“We have seen (backlash) in response to other pro-life bills and at large pro-life rallies,” she said “I think the difference now is the almost constancy of it, because every new state that is passing a piece of pro-life legislation is fueling this fire.”

She said much of the backlash has come via social media, and despite the success in recent states, pro-life supporters must continue to be pro-active and engage people in heartfelt, but non-confrontational conversation about church teachings.

“How is this an issue that we should all be concerned about, not just women?” Van Haute said. “And why abortion hurts women. We need to be able to communicate that.”

She attributes the growing trend in pro-life legislation as a response to radical pro-abortion legislation recently adopted in some states, including New York’s controversial law that a baby who has survived a botched abortion attempt might have its life taken away on the delivery table. Van Haute says that legislation was startling for many people who were either undecisive about abortion or were in favor of the right of a woman to abort her baby up to a certain point.

“When that legislation (in New York) passed, it was almost a wakeup call for them,” Van Haute said. “It helped them to see that it really is an easy issue in terms of is abortion right or wrong.

“Circumstances surrounding a woman can be complicated but the right and wrong of abortion became very easy for them to see.”

“And the fact that on a national level we have not been able to ban infanticide,” she added. “That’s alarming.”

Louisiana lawmakers will also likely approve a proposed amendment that would alter language in the constitution saying that women do not have a right to an abortion or even public funding of an abortion in Louisiana.

Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected to sign the various pro-life pieces of legislation.