States in 2012 Passed Second-Highest Number of Abortion Restrictions Ever, Guttmacher Finds

January 4, 2013 — States passed 43 abortion restrictions in 2012, a "sharp decrease" from 2011 but nonetheless the "second-highest number" enacted in a single year, according to a new study by the Guttmacher Institute, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 1/2).

Twenty-four of the 43 new abortion restrictions were enacted in just six states, the study found. Arizona passed seven laws restricting abortion, while Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin each passed at least three.

According to the study, three states prohibited abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, nearly doubling the number of states with similar laws. In addition, four states banned abortion coverage in the insurance exchanges being established under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) and three states limited the use of telemedicine in abortion care (Kliff, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 1/3). Other laws mandated waiting periods, counseling and medically unnecessary ultrasounds prior to abortions ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 1/2).

The study found a decline in laws prohibiting groups affiliated with abortion providers from receiving public funding. While seven states passed such provisions on 2011, just two states enacted similar measures in 2012.

Comparison to 2011

Although 2012 marked the second-greatest number of new abortion restrictions passed in a year, the figure is fewer than half of the record 92 restrictions states enacted in 2011, Guttmacher noted ("Wonkblog," Washington Post, 1/3).

"Against the backdrop of a contentious presidential campaign in which abortion and even contraception were front-burner issues -- to a degree unprecedented in recent memory -- supporters of reproductive health and rights were able to block high-profile attacks on access to abortion in states as diverse as Alabama, Idaho, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Virginia," the study stated ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 1/2).