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States Enact Near-Record Number of Abortion Restrictions in 2011, NARAL Report Finds

States Enact Near-Record Number of Abortion Restrictions in 2011, NARAL Report Finds

January 20, 2012 — States passed 67 antiabortion-rights measures in 2011, according to an annual report by NARAL Pro-Choice America, NPR's "Shots" reports. The number of laws enacted in 2011 is just short of a record set in 1999.

The report found that the laws fell into five categories. Eight states now have laws requiring ultrasounds before abortion care, while eight states in2011 prohibited private health plans from covering abortion services, bringing the total number to 16. In addition, five states in 2011 enacted laws similar to a 2010 Nebraska's measure barring abortion after 20 weeks based on supporters' claims that fetuses can feel pain at that point. Arizona passed a law prohibiting abortion for reasons related to sex or race.

Three states passed laws that bar abortion providers from receiving public funds for family planning or other services, bringing the total number of states with such laws to 11. Four of those laws currently are blocked by court orders.

Meanwhile, several states are pursuing "personhood" ballot amendments that would define life as beginning at fertilization, thereby outlawing abortion and also potentially some forms of birth control.

NARAL President and CEO Nancy Keenan attributed the increase in antiabortion-rights measures to the 2010 elections, which brought in conservative governors and GOP-majority legislatures in 19 states. "The bottom line here is that elections matter," she said, adding, "When you have a change of anti-choice politicians sitting in the statehouse, it affects women's lives." The report noted that the three states that passed the largest number of antiabortion laws -- Arizona, Florida and Kansas -- all had new antiabortion-rights Republican governors in 2009 or 2010 (Rovner, "Shots," NPR, 1/19).