In the first quarter of 2013, states have proposed 694 provisions related to a woman’s body, how she gets pregnant, or how she chooses to end that pregnancy.
A new report released on Thursday by the Guttmacher Institute takes a comprehensive look at how the War on Women has continued past the election cycle and into 2013. It shows that the new legislatures across the country are still very much dedicated to restricting sex education, availability of medication, and abortion access for women. Indeed, 47 percent of the 694 provisions were directly related to abortion:
During the first three months of 2013, legislators in 14 states introduced provisions seeking to ban abortion prior to viability. These bans fall into three categories: measures that would prohibit all abortions, those that would ban abortions after a specified point during the first trimester of pregnancy and those that would block abortions at 20 weeks after fertilization (the equivalent of 22 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period, the conventional method physicians use to measure pregnancy). All of these proposals are in direct violation of U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
Legislators in 10 states have introduced proposals that would ban all, or nearly all, abortions. In eight states (AL, IA, MS, ND, OK, SC, VA and WA), legislators have proposed defining “personhood” as beginning at conception; if adopted, these measures would ban most, if not all, abortions.
Seven states are edging closer to achieving full approval for laws that would reduce or essentially eliminate abortion access.
Enforcing unconstitutional abortion laws isn’t just a threat to women’s rights — it’s also costly to the states caught up in legal battles. Last year, Kansas spent $628,000 defending its unconstitutional abortion restrictions. North Dakota is in the middle of spending $400,000 to defend its ban, and Arkansas is set to do the same.
But if the number of proposed abortion restrictions is discouraging, the upside of the Guttmacher report is that states are moving toward the prevention of unintended pregnancy through sex education: It finds that two states — Montana and North Dakota — are pushing for more restrictive, less informative sex education laws, but that both Colorado and Hawaii are pushing for more comprehensive, inclusive, and scientific sex education for students. Colorado’s would even prohibit abstinence-only instruction, which has been proven to be more harmful than effective. ThinkProgress’s own survey of state legislation has found a total of five states that, like Colorado, are pushing for better sex ed. These findings track with popular opinion that increasingly recognizes the value of sex education.