The Massive Push To Restrict Abortion In 2015

Abortion opponents gather in San Francisco’s Civic Center for the “Walk for Life” rally CREDIT: AP PHOTO/BECK DIEFENBACH
Abortion opponents gather in San Francisco’s Civic Center for the “Walk for Life” rally CREDIT: AP PHOTO/BECK DIEFENBACH

On the heels of a record-breaking number of new abortion restrictions that have been enacted over the past four years, state lawmakers are continuing to push forward with a stringent anti-abortion agenda in 2015.

By last week, states had already introduced more than 100 bills intended to regulate access to abortion, according to researchers at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Lawmakers are working to restrict the procedure in more than half the states in the country:

CREDIT: Kaiser Family Foundation
CREDIT: Kaiser Family Foundation

According to the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks legislative activity, states continue to introduce multiple restrictions related to abortion each day. Proposed legislation on the state level includes bills that would require women to watch anti-choice videos before they may proceed with an abortion, bills that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, bills that would restrict clinics’ ability to prescribe the abortion pill, and bills that would completely outlaw the most common surgical abortion procedure.

Many of those measures are based on model legislation written by anti-choice groups that specialize in pioneering new bills — like Americans United for Life, the National Right to Life Committee, and the Susan B. Anthony List. Having hundreds of pre-written bills on hand allows conservative lawmakers to submit a rash of legislation at the beginning of the session and see what manages to advance.

The states filing new abortion restrictions already heavily regulate the procedure. Missouri, for instance, is considering at least 10 different anti-abortion bills even though the state has just one clinic left that offers abortion services.

The current legislative activity won’t come as a surprise to reproductive rights proponents, who have been anticipating an onslaught of abortion restrictions in 2015. The most recent midterm elections handed significant victories to abortion opponents, allowing Republicans to pick up enough seats to maintain control of nearly 70 chambers in states across the country. In some states, anti-abortion lawmakers now have enough power to approve abortion bills that were vetoed by their governor last year.

Despite the hundreds of anti-abortion laws that have been enacted over the past several years, recent polling conducted by Gallup suggests that opponents of the procedure have not been satiated. Republicans’ dissatisfaction with the country’s abortion laws has been on the rise since President Obama was elected, and many of them say they wish the policies in this area were even stricter.

Kelly Baden, the director of state advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights, told RH Reality Check that Gallup’s polling results signal a “misperception” about the current state of abortion policy.

“When you ask a question about abortion policy under the lens of ‘the nation,’ I don’t think it’s the right question. We know that the action is in the states,” Baden said. Anti-abortion lawmakers in state houses across the country clearly know that, too.