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Chart by Guttmacher Institute
On the reproductive rights front, there's one bit of good news. Only 10 state legislatures are still in session and many of those will soon adjourn. The bad news: in 2011 so far, 19 state legislatures have passed 80 laws that restrict or put obstacles in the path of women's right to choose abortion. According to the Guttmacher Institute, which closely falls such matters, this is more than double the previous record of 34 restrictions passed in 2005. The laws are part of stepped-up efforts by an emboldened forced-birther crowd.

Which is not to say they stick with legal means. For example, efforts to cut Planned Parenthood out of the state budget in North Carolina were backed up Monday night by vandals who spray painted "Thou Shalt Not Murder" and other graffiti on a Planned Parenthood facility in Raleigh. The clinic does not provide abortions.

The attack comes just under a week after Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina filed a federal lawsuit in an attempt to invalidate part of the new North Carolina state budget that cuts it off from federal or state funds for family planning.

The budget written by Republicans in control of the General Assembly for the first time in more than a century states that Planned Parenthood and its affiliates are forbidden from receiving any contracts or grants from the state health agency. The lawsuit filed in Greensboro's federal court by Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina contends the group is being punished for its abortion-rights advocacy, saying that violates its free-speech protections.

The organization is barred by law from using public money to perform abortions and uses the government contracts to provide family planning or teen pregnancy prevention services, yet is being singled out because Planned Parenthood supports abortion rights, the lawsuit said. Efforts to cut off funds to Planned Parenthood affiliates in North Carolina are similar to those in Kansas and Indiana, which were also met with federal lawsuits, the group's attorneys said.

In some states, cutting budgets for family planning was an expected consequence of the fiscal crises they face. They made similar cuts in other health services. But in Montana, the line item for family planning was eliminated, and in Texas and New Hampshire, the respective 66 percent and 57 percent cuts were disproportionate to how much was taken from other health services, according to Guttmacher.

New Hampshire is reported to be reconsidering its chopping of $1.8 million from Planned Parenthood:

Since losing its state contract—which also paid for education, distributing contraception, and the testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections—Planned Parenthood clinics have “turned away 20 to 30 patients a day who have arrived to refill their birth control prescriptions.” An estimated 70 percent of patients are uninsured.

Among the other major restrictions added by various states this year:

• Five states (Kansas, Indiana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas) mandated pre-abortion counseling and waiting periods. South Dakota's law, pending a legal challenge, requires a 72-hour waiting period during which the woman must visit one of those anti-abortion "crisis pregnancy center" that provide inaccurate and ideologically tainted "information." She must also obtain counseling in person from the physician who will perform the procedure. Those are huge obstacles in South Dakota, which has a single abortion clinic in Sioux Falls that is staffed once a week by physicians who fly in from Minnesota. That means a woman from, say, Rapid City, would have to hang around for more than a week to obtain a procedure guaranteed to her by the U.S. Supreme Court.

• Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma and Idaho enacted laws prohibiting abortion after 20 week of gestation based on the phony claim of "fetal pain." Nebraska adopted a similar law last year. Pro-choice advocates argue that these laws, and a proposal in Ohio to bar abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected at about six weeks of gestation, violate the Supreme Court's rulings that forbid states from placing undue burdens on women seeking abortions.

• Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Utah enacted laws restricting abortion coverage under all private health insurance plans, including those that will be part of health exchanges. Eight states now restrict insurance coverage of abortion, and six others restrict only coverage through health exchanges.

• Kansas, Arizona, North Dakota, Nebraska and Tennessee banned telemedicine for the provision of medication abortion. This procedure allows women to go to an abortion provider and receive counseling via videoconference from a physician in another location who then authorizes on-site staff to dispense the medication. Given the dwindling number of abortion providers nationwide, and particularly in underserved rural areas and small towns, telemedicine can bring medical services to people for whom they would otherwise be inaccessible.

The war on women never rests. We foes can't either.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Jul 13, 2011 at 10:25 AM PDT.

Also republished by State & Local ACTION Group, Abortion, Pro Choice, and Sluts.

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