State lawmakers will reconvene to kick off their new sessions this week, and Republican legislators are already gearing up for the new abortion restrictions they hope to introduce this year.
2012 was a banner year for attacks on reproductive freedom — according to the Guttmacher Institute, 19 states passed 42 different abortion restrictions last year, second only to the record-breaking 92 anti-abortion provisions enacted in 2011 — and anti-choice lawmakers show no sign of letting up in the new year. Even though November’s election results demonstrated that voters rejected far-right anti-abortion ideology, state legislators in the following states are moving forward with their attempts to continue restricting women’s right to choose:
— VIRGINIA: In the last days of 2012, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) quietly approved controversial health clinic rules intended to target abortion doctors and limit women’s access to reproductive services — and Republican lawmakers are prepared to further McDonnell’s anti-abortion agenda in the first days of the new year. Del. Bob Marshall (R), the legislature’s most ardent anti-choice crusader, is planning to introduce a measure to impose additional burdens to abortion access under the guise of preventing “sex-selective abortions,” as well as a provision requiring insurers to offer plans that don’t include contraceptive coverage. According to the Washington Post, another Republican lawmaker in Virginia is gearing up for a bill that would “eliminate state funding for abortions for low-income women who learn of gross fetal deformities.”
— WISCONSIN: Legislators in Wisconsin enacted three different pieces of anti-abortion legislation last year, but that’s not enough for Republicans in the state. They’re already working on a forced ultrasound bill that would attempt to shame women out of choosing to have an abortion procedure. And the anti-abortion group Wisconsin Right to Life plan to pressure lawmakers to take up legislation to ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and prevent public employees from using their health insurance to cover abortion services.
— INDIANA: Two anti-abortion state lawmakers in Indiana have already authored SB 101, which would require doctors to present women with biased information about the dangers of medical abortion procedures, for consideration in the new session. The Courier-Journal reports that doctors would need to provide mentally competent women with a printed packet entitled “A Woman’s Right to Know,” which would include “detailed color photos showing the development of fetuses at two-week intervals and information regarding adoption” as well as “the risks of aborting the pregnancy versus the risks of carrying it to term.”
— TEXAS: Officials in Texas have already succeeded in defunding the Planned Parenthood clinics in their state, a policy that went into effect on the first day of 2013 and is currently forcing thousands of low-income women to find new doctors. And Gov. Rick Perry (R) — who has acknowledged that his ultimate “goal” is outlawing all access to abortion — won’t stop there. Perry is also championing a “fetal pain” bill that would ban abortions at just 20 weeks of gestation, based on the scientifically contested idea that fetuses can feel pain at that point. Similar measures in Georgia and Arizona are currently being contested in court.