After a year in which state legislatures across the country approved a record number of pro-life bills to stop abortions and protect women and unborn children, 2012 is shaping up to be banner year in which more pro-life legislation is approved than typical for an election cycle.
The Guttmacher Institute, the pro-abortion former research arm of Planed Parenthood — which still receives funding from the abortion business — issued a new report complaining about the extensive number of pro-life bills considered and approved already in state legislatures this year.
In the first three months of 2012, legislators in 45 of the 46 legislatures that have convened this year introduced 944 provisions related to reproductive health and rights. Half of these provisions would restrict abortion access. So far, 75 abortion restrictions have been approved by at least one legislative chamber, and nine have been enacted. This is below the record-breaking pace of 2011, when 127 abortion restrictions had been approved by at least one body in the first quarter of the year, but still higher than usual for an election year. In 2010, for example, only 46 such restrictions had passed at least one house during the first quarter, while in 2008, only 34 had passed one chamber by that point.
Guttmacher says legislatures have primary been focused on helping women see an ultrasound of their unborn child before an abortion. While studies show abortion clinics routinely perform an ultrasound beforehand to determine the gestational age of the unborn baby, they do not normally show the images to women because the pictures frequently prompt women to reconsider a decision to have an abortion.
So far this year, legislators in 11 states (AK, AL, ID, IA, KY, MI, MN, MS, PA, RI and VA) have introduced provisions that would require a woman to undergo an ultrasound prior to obtaining an abortion. Once the Virginia restriction goes into effect in July, eight states will require a woman to undergo an ultrasound prior to an abortion.
Lawmakers are also focusing on limiting the use of the mifepristone abortion drug, specifically targeting the new webcam abortion process that prevents women from seeing a physician in person for a consultation before getting the drug, as the FDA suggests. With the drug having killed dozens of women worldwide and injured more than 2,200 alone in the United States, according to April 2011 FDA figures, pro-life groups have been concerned about Planned Parenthood putting women’s health at risk.
Through April, the FDA reports 2,207 adverse events related to the use of RU 486, including 14 deaths, 612 hospitalizations, 58 ectopic pregnancies, 339 blood transfusions, and 256 cases of infections in the United States alone. A European drug manufacturer has publicly stated that 28 women have died worldwide after using RU 486/mifepristone.
According to Guttmacher:
Legislators in 11 states have introduced restrictions on medication abortion. The provisions introduced in 10 of these states (AL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MS, MO, OK, TN and WI) would prohibit use of telemedicine by requiring that the physician prescribing the medication be in the same room as the patient. Telemedicine bans are awaiting signature in Tennessee and Wisconsin. Currently, four states ban the use of telemedicine to prescribe medication for abortion.
In addition, legislators in seven states (AL, AZ, IN, IA, MI, MS and MO) have introduced measures that would require the provision of medication abortion to be in strict accordance with long-standing FDA protocol. This would prohibit a widely used, simpler protocol that has been demonstrated to be safe and effective.
Meanwhile, legislators in 14 states have introduced legislation that seeks to restrict abortion later in pregnancy—but prior to fetal viability.
In 10 of these states (FL, GA, IA, LA, MI, MN, MS, NH, VA and WV), the provisions would ban abortion at 20 weeks postfertilization, which is the equivalent of 22 weeks’ gestation (as pregnancy is conventionally measured, which is from the woman’s last menstrual period). These restrictions are based on a 2010 Nebraska law that has already served as the model for laws in five other states.
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The proposed provision in Georgia has passed the legislature and is awaiting signature by Gov. Nathan Deal (R). It would permit an abortion after 22 weeks’ gestation only in cases of life endangerment, possible “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function” or fatal fetal impairment.
Legislators in six states (AZ, FL, NH, NJ, OK and SC) have introduced provisions that would ban abortions at other points in pregnancy: 18 weeks postfertilization in Arizona and Oklahoma, 22 weeks postfertilization in New Jersey and South Carolina, 25 weeks postfertilization in Florida and during the third trimester in New Hampshire.
Guttmacher is also upset that states have worked to protect the rights of consumers and religious groups to not have to pay for contraception, birth control or drugs that may cause abortions.
Legislators in five states (AZ, GA, NH, NJ and NY) with contraceptive coverage mandates have introduced legislation to expand existing exemptions, or create new ones, for certain employers. So far this year, provisions have passed one chamber in Arizona, Georgia and New Hampshire.
With dozens of pro-life bills still percolating in legislatures, these pro-life numbers will only increase — causing a further reduction in the number of abortions done across the country and further protecting women and unborn babies from harm and death.