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Pro-Life Momentum? States Implement Record Number of Abortion Restrictions



Are the tides of public opinion -- and policy -- taking a turn when it comes to the politically-flammable issue of abortion?

In the United States and across the globe, the issue of willful termination continues to find its way onto legislative agendas. Earlier this month, The Blaze reported on efforts in Poland to ban the procedure entirely and in May, we covered Russia's abortion crackdown.

In the United States -- as in other areas of the world -- the issue continues to be highly contentious, with state legislatures debating about how best to handle the laws governing it. On Wednesday, the Guttmacher Institute reported that a record number of provisions that relate to reproductive health (162 to be exact) have been enacted in the first six months of 2011. Guttmacher, a left-leaning reproductive rights think tank, writes:

Fully 49% of these new laws seek to restrict access to abortion services, a sharp increase from 2010, when 26% of new laws restricted abortion. The 80 abortion restrictions enacted this year are more than double the previous record of 34 abortion restrictions enacted in 2005—and more than triple the 23 enacted in 2010. All of these new provisions were enacted in just 19 states.

While abortion rights groups will lament many of these changes, the pro-life movement will likely welcome most of them. Now, let's explore some of the changes that have been put in place.

Five states (Indiana, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas) have ratified laws that relate to abortion counseling and waiting periods. In South Dakota, the pre-abortion waiting period is 72 hours, women must visit a crisis pregnancy center in the interim and abortion counseling must be provided by the physician who will be conducting the procedure. This particular law has yet to go into effect, pending the results of a legal challenge.

Also, legislators in 15 states have introduced measures based on a law adopted in Nebraska last year. This particular provision bans abortions at or after 20 weeks. Exemptions to this rule include a woman's life being endangered or the potential for substantial and irreversible damage to a major bodily function. So far, similar laws have been passed in  Alabama, Indiana, Idaho, Kansas and Oklahoma. Guttmacher writes:

The provision...[is] based on the spurious [potentially false] assumption that a fetus can feel pain at that point.

These laws appear to conflict with Supreme Court rulings barring states from placing an undue burden on women seeking an abortion prior to viability, a point that occurs well past 20 weeks.

Then, there's Ohio's "Heartbeat Bill," a proposal that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected by doctors. The Blaze covered legislative activity surrounding the measure back in June. Reuters says:

If enacted, the law would be a challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling which upheld a woman’s right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually at 22-24 weeks.

And in Kansas, pro-life adherents are vigorously arguing against a recent law that requires abortion clinics to meet various standards in order to continue operating. World Magazine has more:

The new regulations include what drugs and equipment providers must stock, require them to make medical records available for inspection, set standards for room sizes and temperatures, and require patients to remain in recovery rooms at least two hours after an abortion.

“Abortion clinics and the abortion staff hate being regulated and inspected,” said Operation Rescue president Troy Newman. “It is no surprise that these shoddy abortion clinics refuse the most basic standards.”

Other supporters add that the new regulations would protect patients and often cite South Carolina’s similar set of regulations for abortion providers as a good model that’s already survived court scrutiny.

Below, listen to The Young Turks lament the "crazy," "anti-women" abortion laws that have been implemented in the state:

Guttmacher highlights some of the other regulations and restrictions that have made their way on the books across America. Certainly some may disagree with some of these measures. That said, the summary of the policy debates going on and the resulting laws paints a collective picture of a growing movement away from unrestricted access to abortion procedures.

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