Abortion-Rights Supporters Express Concern Over 'Surge' of Antiabortion-Rights State Legislation

April 9, 2015 — Abortion-rights advocates have been monitoring a "surge" in antiabortion-rights bills in several states over the last five years, saying that the increase in such measures is linked to conservative lawmakers gaining more seats at the state level, as well as model state legislation developed by Americans United for Life, CQ HealthBeat News reports.

Hundreds of Antiabortion-Rights Bill Introduced

A recent Guttmacher Institute report found that nearly 800 provisions related to sexual and reproductive health and rights have been introduced in states nationwide as of April 1. Overall, 43 states have introduced a total of 332 measures restricting access to abortion care, the report stated.

According to CQ HealthBeat News, abortion-rights supporters are watching antiabortion-rights bills in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas.

Jennifer Dalven, director at the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project, said that while there has been an uptick in antiabortion-rights legislation, public opposition to such measures during the 2014 elections resulted in some politicians "running from their anti-choice record."

Dalven said, "We saw folks trying to downplay the degree to which they opposed a woman's ability to get an abortion," adding, "I think that's a signal that some politicians are recognizing that being opposed to a woman's right to get an abortion could be politically toxic."

Abortion-Rights Supporters Lambast Abortion 'Reversal,' Mandatory Delay Bills

In recent weeks, abortion-rights supporters and medical groups have decried measures approved in Arizona (SB 1318) and Arkansas (Act 1086) that require abortion providers to tell women the medically unproven claim that they can reverse a medication abortion (Evans, CQ HealthBeat News, 4/8). Both of the measures were based on AUL's model legislation (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/8).

For example, the Arizona chapter of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said, "Claims of medication abortion reversal are not supported by the body of scientific evidence, and this approach is not recommended in ACOG's clinical guidance on medication abortion."

Separately, Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards said such laws "are not based in sound science and instead would force doctors to provide patients untested information that could be harmful to their health." She added, "These laws are reckless, and yet another disgraceful example of lawmakers playing doctor and putting women's health at risk in the name of politics."

Meanwhile, Amanda Allen, state legislative director at the Center for Reproductive Rights, noted that several states are considering implementing or increasing mandatory delays before a woman can undergo an abortion. For example, lawmakers in North Carolina (HB 465) and Oklahoma (HB 1409) are considering bills that would increase the abortion waiting period to 72 hours.

Allen said, "One of the strategies of the anti-abortion movement is to convince the public that women haven't thought about their decision which we know is not true" (CQ HealthBeat News, 4/8).