In the first six months of this year, state legislatures have already enacted 106 provisions related to reproductive health and rights, according to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute. That includes 43 provisions restricting abortion access — as many as were enacted during the entire year in 2012.
2011 was a record-breaking year for new abortion restrictions, with a staggering 80 different anti-abortion provisions enacted in the first six months. At this midway point, 2013 has seen the second-highest number of abortion restrictions signed into law:
At the beginning of the year, a new momentum for radical abortion bans seemed to be taking hold. North Dakota enacted an unprecedented 6-week ban, and Arkansas followed close behind with a 12-week ban. Both laws are currently facing court challenges.
Guttmacher notes that, as the year progressed, other states didn’t follow in North Dakota’s or Arkansas’ lead — likely because they didn’t want to inspire similar legal fights. Since early abortion bans directly contradict Roe v. Wade, they are certain to be overturned. Instead, anti-choice lawmakers reverted to more typical — and less high-profile — tactics intended to restrict reproductive access.
Five states imposed burdensome regulations on abortion clinics intended to force them to shut down (the same kind of restrictions that are currently inspiring a high-profile fight in Texas). Four states enacted unnecessary restrictions on medication abortion. Two states banned Obamacare’s health insurance marketplaces from covering abortion services. Other states enacted laws to force women to have an ultrasound, listen to the fetal heartbeat, or wait several days before being allowed to have an abortion. In addition to anti-abortion provisions, some states also attacked family planning funding.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which also tracks state-level abortion restrictions, has warned that 2013 is shaping up to be the worst year for reproductive freedom in recent history.