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Lawmakers Push Forward with Abortion Restrictions Across the Nation

In states such as Washington, Arizona, Minnesota, and South Carolina, lawmakers are introducing bills placing restrictions on abortion access.

In Washington, two bills are being introduced to restrict abortion care access. The first is house bill 1678, a piece of "personhood" legislation similar to other "personhood" bills that have been unsuccessfully introduced in many other states. The language of the bill grants full personhood and the rights that come along with that title at the moment of conception. The second bill, SB 5289, would require the notification of the parent of a minor seeking an abortion within 48 hours before the abortion takes place. The bill includes an exception for minors who successfully petition for a waiver from a judge. The bill states that the legislature's reason and purpose for proposing the bill is "to further the important and compelling state of interests [of] protecting minors against their own immaturity." Currently, 21 states require parental consent for a minor seeking an abortion.

During the weekend of the Super Bowl, lawmakers in Arizona introduced state bill 1318, a bill that aims to eliminate insurance coverage of abortion care. Existing law in the state of Arizona bans health insurance coverage for abortions unless a person pays for an optional rider, as well as an additional insurance premium. There are exceptions for abortions in the case of saving the life of a woman, but there are no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. SB 1318 would eliminate the optional rider. Kate Sabine, executive director of NARAL Arizona, said that this bill would "restrict the private sector from contracting with privately-contracted insurance agencies to access women's health care."

In South Carolina, a 20-week abortion ban made it through the state's House of Representatives last week. HB 3114 would ban any abortion after 20 weeks, after which anti-choice advocates contend fetuses can experience pain. This argument has been disputed by medical experts, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association. A similar 20-week ban was defeated in the state House in Virginia less than two weeks ago.

In Minnesota, lawmakers have rolled out five anti-abortion bills that bar Medicaid and other public health programs from covering abortion services, require abortion clinics to be licensed as outpatient surgical center, allow state inspections of clinics with no warning, and make telemedical abortion impossible. These bills all add extraneous requirements on abortion providers that are unnecessary to safely complete abortions or echo larger problematic policies like the Hyde Amendment, and their purpose is clear: to make abortion less accessible, especially for poorer women.

These bills are part of a larger "juggernaut" of anti-abortion legislation Republican lawmakers in more than 20 states will introduce or already pushing in state legislatures. With the GOP in control of both chambers of Congress, national anti-abortion efforts are also ramping up.

Media Resources: Arizona State Legislature; Washington State Legislature; State Bill 5289; RH Reality Check 2/17/15; Roanoke News 2/6/15; Feminist Newswire 1/22/15, 1/8/15, 1/5/15

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