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Many State Abortion Restrictions Now Before Federal Courts

Many State Abortion Restrictions Now Before Federal Courts

August 8, 2014 — Federal courts are weighing a number of state laws, crafted by Republican-led legislatures, that create new requirements for abortion clinics or restrict when and how abortions are provided, the AP/Huffington Post reports.

According to AP/Huffington Post, many of the laws reflect strategies outlined by Americans United for Life, which positions the measures as ways to protect women's health. However, abortion-rights supporters say that the procedure is safe and that the laws are really meant to erode access to abortion.

While states have restricted abortion rights in various ways for decades, the number and variety of measures has expanded in recent years, according to Jennifer Dalven, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom Project. "It used to be a brick-by-brick approach, and now [abortion-rights opponents are] throwing up the wall all at once, so you can't get over it no matter how high you jump," she said.

Laws Targeting Clinics

The AP/Huffington Post reviews the status of the laws in several states.

For example, a number of states have passed measures that require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The laws threaten to force abortion clinics to close if their doctors cannot obtain admitting privileges.

Missouri, Tennessee, Texas and Utah are among the states with such requirements in place, and Louisiana and Oklahoma are scheduled to start enforcing similar requirements on Sept. 1 and Nov. 1, respectively. However, courts have blocked admitting privileges requirements in Alabama, Mississippi and Wisconsin.

With courts divided over the admitting privileges laws, the final decision on their constitutionality might be left to the Supreme Court, according to the AP/Huffington Post.

Meanwhile, Texas and Virginia have both enacted regulations that require abortion facilities to meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers, a requirement that could close facilities unable to make the costly changes.

Other Abortion Restrictions

Courts also are weighing states' bans on abortion after a certain point in pregnancy. For example, Arkansas and North Dakota are both appealing federal court decisions that struck down laws banning abortion at 12 weeks and as early as a fetal heartbeat can be detected, respectively, while about a dozen other states have tried to implement abortion bans at 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Federal courts also recently blocked measures in Arizona and Indiana that aimed to restrict access to medication abortion (Crary, AP/Huffington Post, 8/7).