In The Past 5 Years, States Have Enacted Nearly 300 Abortion Restrictions

CREDIT: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

In the first half of 2015, state legislatures continued the assault on reproductive rights that’s been intensifying since Republicans made big gains in the 2010 midterm elections, according to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute.

Researchers at the reproductive rights think tank found that states have enacted 51 new abortion restrictions so far this year. (Many legislatures are now out of session, but the handful of states that are still lawmaking could pass even more anti-abortion provisions moving forward.) That brings the total number of restrictions enacted since 2010 up to 282:

abortion restrictions 2015

CREDIT: Guttmacher Institute

The trend is not entirely unexpected. After the 2014 elections handed significant victories to abortion opponents, experts in the field predicted that states would pass more stringent anti-choice laws this year. Several states forged ahead into new territory, enacting first-of-their-kind restrictions on the procedure as a new way of testing the bounds of Roe v. Wade.

For instance, Kansas and Oklahoma both approved a new ban on so-called “dismemberment” abortion, an inflammatory way to describe a specific type of second-trimester abortion procedure. And Arizona and Arkansas both adopted a new type of counseling law that forces doctors to tell their patients about an unscientific theory that medication abortions can be reversed. The Guttmacher report notes that these states are charting “new directions that may well serve as models for other states going forward.”

Many states also passed harsh waiting period requirements lengthening the amount of time that patients must wait before ending a pregnancy. North Carolina and Oklahoma both approved 72-hour waits, among the longest in the nation. Meanwhile, several states — Florida, Arkansas, and Tennessee — approved waiting periods with counseling requirements written in a way that mandates two separate trips to the same abortion clinic.

Several of these extreme laws were scheduled to take effect this week, but ended up getting blocked by the courts mere days before they would have gone into place.

Reproductive rights groups like Planned Parenthood have decried the legislative trend, pointing out the Guttmacher Institute’s findings confirm the “shrinking options” for women who want to end a pregnancy. “State and local lawmakers may not be able to outright ban women’s access to safe, legal abortion, but that hasn’t stopped them from trying,” Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, said in a statement.