The Hits Keep Coming: Repeated Attacks on Abortion Rights

By Amanda Reed, Communications Intern

On April 3 the Trust Women Foundation — the clinic formerly owned by Dr. George Tiller — reopened in Wichita, Kan. This clinic has been closed since Dr. Tiller was assassinated in 2009. Reopening the clinic makes abortion services more accessible to women from the area; patients have had to travel to Oklahoma City or Kansas City for the last four years for abortions.

Despite this victory, the fight for abortion access is not over in Kansas or in the rest of the United States. According to research by the Guttmacher Institute, lawmakers passed 92 anti-abortion measures in 24 states in 2011, and an additional 43 measures in 19 states in 2012. Here are some of the most recent attacks on abortion rights, broken down by state.

Alabama: A law signed by Gov. Robert Bentley requires abortion clinics to meet the standards of “ambulatory surgical centers”, which includes increasing the sizes of rooms and doorways. (This legislation is often referred to as TRAP laws: Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers. The intent is to shut down clinics that provide abortion services, often by requiring costly renovations.)

Arkansas: A “fetal heartbeat” law banning abortions at 12 weeks is set to go into effect later this summer.

Florida: The state House passed a bill banning sex- and race-selective abortions. Supporters argue that Planned Parenthood targets women of color, even though the majority of clinics (63 percent) are located in predominantly white neighborhoods.

Kansas: Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill banning sex-selective abortions. This bill, scheduled to go into effect in July, will also block tax breaks for providers, prohibit them from being involved in public school sex education classes and requires doctors to tell patients there is a link between abortion and breast cancer. In 2003, experts at a U.S. National Cancer Institute workshop found that abortion does not increase the risk breast cancer.

Michigan: Legislation now requires clinics to operate with a state license. Physicians also must determine that patients are not being pressured into seeking abortions before they provide services.

North Dakota: Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed three anti-choice measures into law: a ban on the procedure at five to six weeks; a ban on abortions due to genetic defects; and a requirement that doctors who provide these services be physicians with hospital-admitting privileges.

Virginia: The General Assembly approved an amendment by Gov. Bob McDonnell that will prohibit insurers participating in the state’s upcoming federal health exchange from covering abortions. The Virginia Board of Health approved TRAP laws for the states’ abortion-providing clinics. The financial cost of the TRAP law forced Hillcrest Clinic, which opened nine months after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, to close.

Despite the constant barrage of restrictions, hope exists; attitudes regarding abortion are changing. Currently, 54 percent of Americans (a record high) believe the procedure should be legal in all or most cases, and 70 percent believe Roe v. Wade should not be overturned. Perhaps we will see the day when these rights are no longer put into question and a woman’s choice is recognized for what it is: her choice.

Is your state legislature discussing new regulations on abortion/abortion providers?

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