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.
Now that the GOP controls 69 of the 99 partisan state legislative chambers and 31 governorships, state lawmakers have raced to file bills concerning all aspects of the procedure. As of last week, lawmakers have introduced more than 100 bills regulating abortion in more than half of all states, according to data from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
A sample of the bills introduced include those that would outlaw the most common second-trimester termination method, require parental notification and the permission of the father, require patients to watch an anti-choice video before they could undergo the procedure, require that providers have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and mandate that patients wait 72 hours before they are able to terminate.
The ease with which lawmakers introduce such legislation is due to the organizational backing they have: anti-abortion groups like Americans United for Life will draft model legislation, and then language from those examples will then appear in anti-abortion bills in multiple states. 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.
Typically, these bills are introduced under the guise of protecting women’s health. But medical experts don’t agree, saying that such restrictions are arbitrary and can actually harm women’s health by reducing the availability of safe, legal abortion services. Additionally, leading medical organizations like the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) oppose these restrictions, warning that they intrude into the patient-provider relationship and put women at unnecessary risk. On top of that, abortion is already one of the safest medical procedures.
And yet, abortion restrictions have become a top policy priority for conservative lawmakers: in just the last four years, GOP state legislators have enacted more than 230 restrictions on the procedure, including 70 new laws in 2013 and 26 in 2014. With Republicans in control of even more state legislatures in 2015, the Party seems intent on using their newly-acquired power to further attack women’s rights.