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Wave of Mandatory Delay Legislation Imposing Additional Burdens on Women

May 15, 2015 — Several states are "looking to mandate lengthier and stricter delays for abortion," which can limit women's access to the procedure, Reuters reports.

Background

According to Reuters, the push for mandatory delay measures "comes amid a wave of anti-abortion laws passed by conservative lawmakers over the past few years seeking to chip away at ... Roe v. Wade." Recently, several states have advanced or passed legislation imposing such delays, including Arkansas (Act 1086), Florida (HB 633), North Carolina (HB 465), Oklahoma (HB 1409) and Tennessee (SB 1222).

Mailee Smith, staff counsel at Americans United for Life, said the organization has distributed model legislation enforcing more stringent delays to at least 15 states. She said AUL is working to increase delays already in place in roughly 24 states.

Meanwhile, abortion-rights supporters are considering whether to pursue legal action against the delays, Reuters reports.

Effect of Mandatory Delay Legislation

Christopher Estes -- chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida -- noted such legislation in Florida could "be an additional barrier to those in an already difficult situation, making it even worse." According to Reuters, the 24-hour mandatory delay recently passed by the Florida Legislature requires two office visits, which could, if enacted, impose additional burdens on women in nearby states with few clinics, such as Arkansas or South Carolina.

Similarly, Jennifer Aulwes, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, said the state's 72-hour mandatory delay resulted in patients having to travel longer distances and created more difficulty in scheduling appointments.

Further, Ted Joyce, a professor focused on reproductive health economics at the City College of New York's Baruch College, said mandatory delays that require multiple office visits can prevent women from obtaining an abortion. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 11 states require women to meet with physicians in person prior to obtaining an abortion, meaning that they must make a minimum of two trips to the clinic to obtain the procedure (Stein/Jenkins, Reuters, 5/13).