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State Anti-Abortion Legislation 2010
As too many people - in my opinion and experience - right here in the Bay Area ignore, trivialize, or remain uninformed of the upcoming 7th Annual “Walk For Life 2010”, thousands of well-organized, highly effective, church-based anti-abortion activists plan to once again rally then march through San Francisco with their message that abortion is murder and needs to be outlawed. It may be instructive to look at a “scorecard” of 2010 anti-abortion legislation passed at the state level to understand the serious of this action. I recently read that 370 anti-abortion bills were introduced at the state level in the past year. Here is a synopsis of some of the passed legislation, as compiled in a report by the Guttmacher Institute (guttmacher.org).
Limits to funding is an insidious tactic. Per President Obama’s lead in eliminating abortion coverage in the Federal insurance exchanges, five states passed limits or bans in State insurance exchange programs. Arizona passed limitations on abortion coverage in the state’s employee health plan while South Carolina passed legislation continuing similar employee plan limitations. Five states passed laws either limiting or extending temporary restrictions on Medicaid funding. Mississippi and Colorado legislatures voted to continue family planning funding restrictions. Arizona and Virginia legislation limits funding to cases of life endangerment, rape, and incest. Three states continued funding for alternatives to abortion.
Outright service bans and restrictions are more direct, but few. Oklahoma banned abortion based on the gender of the fetus and after 20 weeks of gestation. Utah has prohibited self-induced abortions.
Bureaucratic hoops delay and complicate the process of having and providing an abortion, along with instituting a coercive anti-abortion bias that likely brings on or accentuates internalized conflicts such as guilt, fear, shame, and overall confusion for many women and families. Kansas established mandatory HIV testing of pregnant women and some infants. Tennessee established a certificate of stillbirth. Idaho allows individual providers to refuse to provide family planning and emergency contraception; the employer is required to provide an alternative provider, except in the case of “undue hardship“, whatever that means. Oklahoma also passed the “undue hardship” loophole to its existing opt-out provider clause. Oklahoma and Idaho expanded their “abortion refusal clause” to include “additional providers and institutions“.
Arizona and Oklahoma established “reporting requirements” related to minors requesting abortions. I assume these are “parental notification” laws like the ones repeatedly put on the California state ballot which have been narrowly defeated. Both states additionally passed laws described as establishing “intrusive reporting requirements“. Oklahoma and Tennessee require clinics to post notices that a woman cannot be “coerced” into an abortion, as if a lot of people might be thinking they overtly can right in front of providers.
More directly, Nebraska now requires what the report describes as “flawed information” on the “risks associated “ with complications, basically trying to scare women out of having the abortion. Missouri requires both that a woman be “informed” that abortion (allegedly, as if objective) ends “the life of a separate, unique, living human being” while requiring fetal pain counseling and - upon request - anesthesia for the fetus. In Oklahoma, the provider must now show and describe the “image” of the fetus to the woman, while three states are requiring that the provider “offer” to show this image.
Missouri requires providers to offer an ultrasound, while Wisconsin requires a “discussion” of contraception before providing the service. South Carolina passed legislation extending an already established waiting period between receiving “counseling” and the abortion to 24 hours. Since only about 14% of U.S. counties currently provide abortion, many women have to travel out of state and with insurance funding almost outlawed across the board. Thus, these types of requirements artificially drive up the cost of the having the procedure by requiring more time away from home with lodging and meal expenses and potentially lost work time. They also artificially drive up clinic expenses.
Draconian criminal violations are being legislated against individual and institutional providers to provide what seems to me a chilling effect on these still legal, medical procedures. In Louisiana, the State is now allowed to close an abortion clinic for any violation of state or federal law, legislation that sounds alarmingly like a “zero tolerance” or a “mandatory minimum sentence” for any violation no matter how small. Providers are no longer covered by existing malpractice protections when performing an “elective” post viability abortion. Oklahoma prohibits a patient from suing a provider who fails or provide (i.e. purposely withholds information from a patient, as in situations where potential health risks of having a baby are discovered) information that leads a woman to continue the pregnancy when she otherwise might choose abortion.
The Guttmacher Institute only describes several trivial laws passed that could be interpreted as pro-abortion, none doing anything to provide safe, accessible, affordable abortions. The drumbeat of repression continues in 2011. Kansas lawmakers are drafting legislation based on a 2010 Nebraska law restricting late-term abortions to 20 weeks on the controversial claim that fetuses start feeling pain at that stage. Three other state legislatures are reportedly planning to introduce similar bills in what anti-abortion activists describe as a model to be replicated nationally. In a recent article published in the Wichita Eagle, these legislations are described as involving tightened reporting requirements for late term abortions, remedies against doctors who violate laws, and instituting provisions for the patient, husband, or parents to sue a provider who they believe violated law in a late-term abortion. The President of the Center for Reproductive Rights describes the law as “clearly unconstitutional” and not grounded “in either the Constitution or science”.
At the Federal level, Indiana’s Representative Mike Pence has just introduced legislation denying funding for non-abortion reproductive procedures (abortion funding has already been eliminated) to organizations who provide abortion in their menu of reproductive services. He is brazenly admitting the legislation is targeted to reduce the number of abortions (i.e. drive out of business economically) Planned Parenthood is able to provide.
About the Guttmacher Institute
Four decades after its creation, the Guttmacher Institute continues to advance sexual and reproductive health in the United States and worldwide through an interrelated program of social science research, policy analysis and public education designed to generate new ideas, encourage enlightened public debate and promote sound policy and program development.
The Institute produces a wide range of resources on topics pertaining to sexual and reproductive health, including International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health (formerly International Family Planning Perspectives), the Guttmacher Policy Review and Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. In 2009, Guttmacher was designated an official Collaborating Center for Reproductive Health by the World Health Organization and its regional office, the Pan American Health Organization.