State Abortion Curbs Rose in '11; Guttmacher Institute Cites 92 Restrictions

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 9, 2012 | Go to article overview

State Abortion Curbs Rose in '11; Guttmacher Institute Cites 92 Restrictions


Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

State lawmakers added a record 92 restrictions on abortion in 2011, ranging from bans on most abortions after 20 weeks of gestation to changes in rules governing abortion clinics, the Guttmacher Institute said Friday.

In 2011, nearly three times as many abortion restrictions were enacted, compared with any other previous year, said Elizabeth Nash, manager of Guttmacher Institute's team that tracks state issues.

The piling on of restriction after restriction is particularly concerning, as it may signal reduced access to abortion for many women, and could impair women's ability to successful plan their future pregnancies, said Ms. Nash. Women most likely to be affected, she added, are those that have the least ability to navigate these obstacles - poor women, women of color and young women.

When the 50 state legislatures are taken together, lawmakers introduced more than 1,100 provisions in 2011 - a sharp increase over the 950 introduced in 2010, Guttmacher said in its new report. The institute counts each discrete element of a law as a provision, since laws typically have multiple sections.

Several of the 92 new restrictions are not in effect, pending court rulings, said the institute, formerly an arm of Planned Parenthood.

However, most are in force, including laws in Arizona, Florida and Kansas requiring an abortion provider to offer a pregnant woman the opportunity to view an ultrasound image of her fetus or listen to a verbal description of the image.

Five states - Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas and Oklahoma - joined Nebraska in passing laws outlawing abortion after 20 weeks based on the premise that fetuses can feel pain at that stage of development. …

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