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Four States Pushing Through Last-Minute Abortion Restrictions Before Lawmakers Break For The Summer

By Tara Culp-Ressler  

"Four States Pushing Through Last-Minute Abortion Restrictions Before Lawmakers Break For The Summer"

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(Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Across the country, states’ legislative sessions are drawing to a close. Over the past several months, lawmakers have been busy enacting over 300 provisions to restrict reproductive freedom — but in some states, they’re not done yet. Even though state legislators are running out of time in the 2013 session, the following states are fast-tracking anti-abortion measures they hope to push through before adjourning:

1. WISCONSIN: Abortion opponents in Wisconsin have successfully pushed through SB 206, a measure introduced at the beginning of June, in a matter of weeks. SB 206 would require women to undergo a potentially invasive ultrasound procedure and force one of the state’s last abortion clinics to close its doors. Women’s health advocates have accused the state legislature of rushing through the bill too quickly so its opponents won’t have enough time to mobilize against it. On Wednesday, in the midst of a contentious debate over SB 206 on the Senate floor, Republicans cut off the debate and forced a vote on the legislation — even among Democratic lawmakers’ protests that the discussion wasn’t over. It passed, and now heads to Gov. Scott Walker (R), who has already promised to sign it.

2. TEXAS: The legislative session in the Lone Star state has already ended, but that doesn’t mean Texas women are safe from assaults on their reproductive rights. Gov. Rick Perry (R) has called a special session to give lawmakers a chance to consider legislation that hasn’t been able to advance yet, after anti-choice lawmakers pressured him to give them a chance to keep trying to push through abortion restrictions. This year, Democrats successfully blocked at least 24 anti-abortion bills introduced during the regular session. But they may not be able to do so in the current special session, which is operating under different rules that allow for less debate. Now, Republican lawmakers may be able to successfully advance SB 5, a sweeping anti-choice measure that would criminalize abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, shut down 80 percent of the state’s abortion clinics, and limit women’s access to the abortion pill.

3. OHIO: Lawmakers in Ohio are currently engaged in budget negotiations — and abortion opponents have attached amendments to the proposed budget that would defund Planned Parenthood, shut down abortion clinics, and redirect state funding to right-wing “crisis pregnancy centers” that mislead women about their reproductive options. Earlier this week, a coalition of Ohio Republicans also introduced a separate abortion bill that combines several egregious attacks on women’s health into one measure. HB 200 would — among other things — mandate invasive ultrasounds and require women to cover the additional cost of the procedure, force women to wait 48 hours before accessing abortion services, and require doctors to tell their patients about a widely debunked link between abortion and breast cancer.

4. NORTH CAROLINA: At the end of May, the North Carolina legislature approved new abortion restrictions — including a measure preventing women from using their own insurance plans to cover abortion care — right before a deadline that non-budget bills must meet in order to stay alive in the next session. But even though the legislative focus has now turned to the state budget, that hasn’t stopped Republicans from continuing to push anti-abortion measures. Lawmakers have tacked on a budget amendment to allocate health care funds to crisis pregnancy centers, despite the fact that they don’t actually offer the full range of women’s health services, like contraception or abortion referrals. The new budget priorities, which also include tax breaks for the wealthy and cuts for other social service programs, have sparked mass protests at the state capitol building this week.

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