The pro-life group Americans United for Life (AUL) has released its annual “Life List” revealing its full rankings of every U.S. state from most to least pro-life.
The group said in a press release that over the course of 2023, U.S. states “have been very active in considering life-related policy” with both pro-life and pro-abortion legislation.
“Thanks to the groundwork state legislatures laid to prepare for the fall of [Roe v. Wade] and their response thereafter, hundreds of thousands of innocent preborn lives will be saved in the coming years,” the group said. “With the freedom to defend life restored, state lawmakers now pass life-affirming laws with confidence to protect women, preborn children, and families.”
AUL’s list showed Arkansas as the most pro-life state in the country. This was the state’s fourth year claiming that title, AUL said, with Arkansas holding the spot due to its having “maintained existing protections for life and enacted an additional nine life-protecting laws.”
Other southern states such as Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana were also among the top 10. Among all states on the list, North Carolina jumped the most, according to AUL, after state lawmakers in May overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of pro-life legislation and banned most abortions after 12 weeks.
South Dakota, which ranks ninth on the group’s list, “is on track to see a year of zero abortions in the state,” AUL said. Idaho and Arizona also ranked in the top 10.
The group acknowledged that some states have seen “strong headwinds” of the pro-abortion movement, including Ohio, where voters in November overwhelmingly approved a ballot referendum that added a new right to “reproductive freedom,” including abortion and contraception, to the state constitution.
The group further pointed to efforts in Arizona to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution, the outcome of which AUL acknowledged “could change the pro-life landscape” as well as the rankings of the Life List itself next year.
Among the lowest-ranking states were Illinois, California, and New York. Vermont ranked at the bottom of the list.
AUL in its release said the rankings on the Life List are “based on criteria that score the states’ protection of life from conception to natural death.”
“This is sorted into the categories of abortion, legal recognition of preborn children, bioethics (such as destructive human embryo research), assisted suicide and end-of-life patient care, and health care rights of conscience,” AUL said.
“In addition, each state is awarded points for its life-affirming cultural and political landscape and momentum, which measures political outlook and the frequency the state legislature effectuates pro-life laws, respectively. “
In its annual state policy report, AUL said that “the number of states that are abortion-free, or nearly so, continues to grow.”
“This time last year, 13 states were abortion-free,” the group said. “Today, there are now 23 states that limit abortion at 12 weeks or earlier.”
Much of U.S. abortion law remains in flux. The Supreme Court in December said it would once again consider a high-stakes abortion pill case, one that could potentially reinstate safeguards that would prohibit sending the deadly drugs by mail.
Though many states have increased protections for unborn children, several U.S. states will have abortion on the ballot in 2024, with abortion activists mounting efforts to craft abortion rights and add them to state codes and constitutions.
Nearly a dozen states are considering such measures as the new year looms, including Maryland, Colorado, and Missouri.
Pro-life institutions, meanwhile, continued to be targets of pro-abortion attacks in 2023 following the 2022 overturning of Roe, with numerous Catholic churches also being vandalized in the wake of Roe’s repeal.