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Several States Increasing Mandatory Delays Before Abortion

Several States Increasing Mandatory Delays Before Abortion

June 5, 2015 — Several states in recent years have passed legislation extending the mandatory delay period before women can have an abortion, NPR's "It's All Politics" reports.

States Move To Impose, Extend Mandatory Delays

According to "It's All Politics," 26 states currently have mandatory delay periods of at least 24 hours. However, several state legislatures this year have approved measures to extend those delays to 48 or 72 hours.

For example, a new Arkansas law (Act 1086), introduced by state Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R), will extend the state's mandatory delay period to 48 hours and require women to receive in-person counseling before they can have an abortion. Meanwhile, Florida Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (R) sponsored a bill (HB 633) that would implement a 24-hour waiting period in the state, claiming that the measure would give women more time to reflect on their decision.

Abortion-Rights Supporters Voice Concerns

Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues associate at the Guttmacher Institute, said of the mandatory delay extensions, "Now so many states have so many restrictions, really the only thing left to do is go back to the restrictions that are in place and see how much worse they can be."

Meanwhile, Mona Reis -- who directs Presidential Women's Center, an abortion clinic in South Florida -- said, "For me, having been involved with this since 1973, it was easier to get an abortion at that time than it is 42 years later."

Reis explained that most women who come into her clinic already receive private counseling before an abortion and have already thought through their decision. She added that making women visit a clinic twice to receive an abortion imposes additional hardships on them, particularly for women who have children. Specifically, she said such women would have "to arrange to find child care for [their] children, and arrange to take off extra time from work to satisfy this mandatory delay which makes no medical sense at all."

Further, Reis noted that the mandatory delay bill would also impose additional burdens on abortion clinics, given that many clinics only have physicians on site a few days each week. Under the proposed requirements, clinics would also need to schedule physicians for in-person counseling sessions (Ludden, "It's All Politics," NPR, 6/2).