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A chart showing how states have become ever-more
Every month, the Guttmacher Institute updates its survey on laws relating to reproductive health and rights. As we've previously reported, it's been a grim couple of years as Republican state legislators, usually helped by a few Democrats, have worked hard to weaken the rights of women seeking abortions. They have also passed numerous laws curtailing the activities and government contracts of operations like Planned Parenthood's. These provide birth control and basic reproductive health care services to women who don't have insurance or adequate income to pay for vital procedures, such as the cancer-detecting breast exams that can save their lives.

The latest survey offers no comfort.

So far, compared with last year, the number of additional restrictions enacted on abortion has fallen. Compared with this time in 2011, when 80 new restrictions had been put into place, only 39 have been enacted. And only seven state legislatures are still in session to do more damage. But 2011 was a record-breaking year for such restrictions, 92 in all, and the laws enacted already this year come in second only to that.

Guttmacher reports that there is a skew to the new restrictions—14 of them implemented in just three states—Arizona, Louisiana and South Dakota. They are among the growing number of states considered hostile to abortion. Guttmacher defines these as states with at least five such restrictions on the books. Twenty-six states qualify, and they encompass 55 percent of American women of reproductive age.

Elizabeth Nash and Rachel Benson Gold came up with 10 categories of restrictions to measure the level of hostility. These include a requirement for medically inaccurate or misleading preabortion counseling, restrictions on abortion coverage in private health insurance plans and unconstitutional bans on abortion before fetal viability.

For purposes of this analysis, we consider a state “supportive” of abortion rights if it had enacted provisions in no more than one of these restriction categories, “middle-ground” if it had enacted provisions in two or three categories and “hostile” if it had enacted provisions in four or more.

Overall, most states—35 in total—remained in the same category in all three years (see map); however, of the 15 states that moved from one category to another, every one became more restrictive over the period. Two of the states supportive of abortion rights in 2000 moved to the middle category by 2011, and one had become hostile. Moreover, 12 states that had been middle-ground in 2000 had become hostile to
abortion rights by 2011. [...]

As a result, the number of both supportive and middle-ground states shrank considerably, while the number of hostile states ballooned. In 2000, 19 states were middle-ground and only 13 were hostile. By 2011, when states enacted a recordbreaking number of new abortion restrictions that picture had shifted dramatically: 26 states were hostile to abortion rights, and the number of middle-ground states had cut in half, to nine.

The forced-birthers have been at this since five minutes after Roe v. Wade was decided 39 years ago. Their recent successes are tightening a noose around that ruling, making it ever more difficult for women—low-income women, in particular—to exercise their rights.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 05:24 PM PDT.

Also republished by Abortion, Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism, and Daily Kos.

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