There’s one extra gift you got this holiday season, and I’m willing to bet it wasn’t on your Amazon Wish List: 92 new abortion restrictions enacted by state legislatures. Last year was the worst year for state abortion restrictions ever. The previous high water mark was 34 in 2005. With banks still foreclosing on homes and people unable to find work, it is beyond disheartening to know that state legislators spent their time and energy last year – not to mention state dollars – making it harder for women to get abortions.
The most common types of abortion restrictions that passed in the last year are those which limit abortion coverage in health plans. You read that right – even if you want to pay for abortion coverage with your own money, the state won’t allow an insurance company to sell it to you. These laws allow coverage of abortion when the woman’s life is endangered, but only some provide exceptions to cover abortion in cases of rape or incest. Nine states enacted laws which limit the abortion coverage offered by health plans that participate in the exchanges under the health care reform law. Four states limited the abortion coverage that can be offered in all health plans in the state. That brings the total number of states banning abortion coverage in the exchange to 15 and the total number banning insurance coverage of abortion altogether to 8. So much for limited government regulation of business and letting the market take care of things!
States are even resorting to enacting laws that require and endorse lying to women about abortion. North Dakota requires that counseling provided to women considering abortion include information stating that having an abortion increases the risk of breast cancer, despite the fact that this is untrue. South Dakota now requires that counseling provided to women considering abortion include flawed information about risk factors for abortion and requires women to visit a crisis pregnancy center, which are notorious for providing misinformation, before obtaining an abortion.
So, 2011 will be remembered as a time when, among other things, five states banned abortion after 20 weeks gestation; seven states prohibited the use of telemedicine to obtain a medication abortion; and five states require an ultrasound before an abortion. In all, 92 new restrictions on abortion in 2011. State legislatures are about to reconvene across the country to take up the business of 2012, and we anticipate many more will try to enact these types of restrictions. Happy new year?