24 States Enacted 92 Abortion Restrictions In 2011

Lawmakers across the nation pursued a record number of reproductive health and rights-related provisions in 2011, a new report from the Guttmacher Institute finds, enacting 135 measures in 36 states — “an increase from the 89 enacted in 2010 and the 77 enacted in 2009.” Sixty-eight percent of the provisions — 92 in 24 states — restricted access to abortion services:


Here is a sampling of 2011 in abortion law:

– Bans: The most high-profile state-level abortion debate of 2011 took place in Mississippi, where voters rejected the ballot initiative that would have legally defined a human embryo as a person “from the moment of fertilization,” setting the stage to ban all abortions and, potentially, most hormonal contraceptive methods in the state. Meanwhile, five states (AL, ID, IN, KS and OK) enacted provisions to ban abortion at or beyond 20 weeks’ gestation.

– Waiting Periods: Three states adopted waiting period requirements for a woman seeking an abortion. In the most egregious of the waiting-period provisions, a new South Dakota law would have required a woman to obtain pre-abortion counseling in person at the abortion facility at least 72 hours prior to the procedure; it would also have required her to visit a state-approved crisis pregnancy center during that 72-hour interval.

– Ultrasound: Five states adopted provisions mandating that a woman obtain an ultrasound prior to having an abortion. The two most stringent provisions were adopted in North Carolina and Texas and were immediately enjoined by federal district courts. Both of these restrictions would have required the provider to show and describe the image to the woman.

– Insurance Coverage: Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Utah adopted provisions prohibiting all insurance policies in the state from covering abortion except in cases of life endangerment; they all permit individuals to purchase additional coverage at their own expense. These new restrictions bring to eight the number of states limiting abortion coverage in all private insurance plans.

– Clinic Regulations: Four states enacted provisions directing the state department of health to issue regulations governing facilities and physicians’ offices that provide abortion services. A new provision in Virginia requires a facility providing at least five abortions per month to meet the requirements for a hospital in the state. New requirements in Kansas, Pennsylvania and Utah direct the health agency to develop standards for abortion providers.

Nine states also passed laws making it harder to avoid pregnancy in the first place. Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Washington, Wisconsin, Montana, New Hampshire, and Texas reduced funding for family planning programs, with the Lone Star State reducing its reproductive health budget by as much as 66 percent. Indiana, Colorado, Ohio, North Carolina Texas and Wisconsin, meanwhile, “moved to disqualify or otherwise bar certain types of providers from the receipt of family planning funds” and “New Hampshire decided not to renew its contract through which the Planned Parenthood affiliate in the state received Title X funds.”

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