January 31, 2013 — Emboldened by new Republican majorities in three states and GOP control of both legislative chambers in 26 states, abortion-rights opponents are working to build on the momentum of the last two years, when 135 state abortion restrictions were enacted, Bloomberg reports.
State lawmakers are set to consider dozens of abortion-related measures this year. Dan McConchie, who oversees state lobbying efforts for Americans United for Life, said states are "competing with each other to be the most protective in the country."
Jordan Goldberg, state advocacy counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, noted that lawmakers' intention to file legislation does not mean the measures will pass. "Every year anti-choice legislators introduce waves of these bills. Most don't pass; all are bad ideas," Goldberg said.
According to Bloomberg, antiabortion-rights lawmakers often look to other states' abortion restrictions to determine which are most effective. Lawmakers in Alabama, North Dakota and South Carolina have taken note of a Mississippi requirement that abortion providers obtain hospital admitting privileges, which has threatened to close the state's only clinic. Similarly, Iowa, Indiana and Texas might follow the lead of eight states that have restricted medication abortion.
Bills to restrict abortion coverage are also expected to be prominent this year, McConchie said. Laws banning abortion coverage in health insurance exchanges already are in effect in 20 states, according to the Guttmacher Institute. In addition, all but 17 states bar Medicaid coverage of abortion under most circumstances.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Carolina are proposing to completely ban abortion by redefining when life begins, and Kentucky and Wyoming are considering legislation that could ban abortion as early as six weeks.
Lawmakers in at least nine states are considering banning abortion based on the sex of the fetus. A version of such legislation in North Dakota also would outlaw abortion if the fetus has genetic defects, including when the abnormalities would be fatal (Deprez/Oldham, Bloomberg, 1/30).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.