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Report: States Enacted 57 Abortion-Rights Restrictions in 2015

In 2015, 46 states considered a total of 396 antiabortion-rights measures and 17 states passed 57 such laws, according to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute, Rolling Stone reports.

Restrictions on the Rise

In the report, the researchers cited an increase in abortion-rights restrictions over the last five years. "Including the 57 abortion restrictions enacted in 2015, states have adopted 288 abortion restrictions just since the 2010 midterm elections swept abortion opponents into power in state capitals across the country," the researchers wrote, adding, "(S)tates adopted nearly as many abortion restrictions during the last five years (288 enacted 2011 -- 2015) as during the entire previous 15 years (292 enacted 1995 -- 2010)" (Kelley, Rolling Stone, 1/4).

According to the researchers, 31 states over the last five years have enacted at least one abortion-rights restriction. Meanwhile,"[t]he 10 states that enacted at least 10 new restrictions together account for 173, or 60% of the 288 new abortion restrictions adopted over the last five years," the researchers added. The researchers noted that those states "are overwhelmingly located in the South and the Midwest, and it is likely that access to services for women in these regions has been impacted significantly."

Further, the researchers noted that "[f]our states -- Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas and Oklahoma -- each enacted at least 20 new abortion restrictions, making this handful of states, which together adopted 94 new restrictions, responsible for a third of all abortion restrictions enacted nationwide over the last five years." According to the researchers, "Kansas has the dubious distinction of leading the pack with 30 new abortion restrictions since 2010."

Abortion-Rights Restrictions in 2015

The report found that, when broken down by topic, the restrictions passed last year tend to fall into four main categories: counseling and mandatory delays; medication abortion; abortion after the first trimester of pregnancy; and targeted regulation of abortion providers.

Mandatory delay legislation was enacted in five states. Florida and Tennessee passed mandatory delay measures, while Arkansas, North Carolina and Oklahoma lengthened mandatory delays already in place. According to Guttmacher, the courts have blocked the Florida law (HB 633). Meanwhile, the Oklahoma law (HB 1409) has been challenged, but it can take effect while the challenge is pending.

Meanwhile, four states -- Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas and Montana -- tried to ban the use of telemedicine for provision of abortion care, while two states, Arizona and Arkansas, adopted laws that require doctors to provide women medically unproven information about the procedure. The researchers noted that the Arkansas law (HB 1578) is in effect, while the Arizona law (SB 1318) is on hold pending the outcome of an ongoing legal challenge.

Looking at restrictions on abortion care after the first trimester, the researchers noted that Kansas (SB 95) and Oklahoma (SB 1721) enacted laws to prohibit a "safe and medically proven method that has long been used for abortions after 14 weeks." According to the researchers, "both laws are enjoined pending court action." In addition, the researchers noted that West Virginia and Wisconsin passed laws to ban abortion at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy. West Virginia's ban has taken effect, while Wisconsin's is set to take effect in February.

Meanwhile, five states enacted TRAP laws last year. Four states -- Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio and Oklahoma -- tightened existing requirements, while one state, Tennessee, passed a new TRAP law (Pub. Ch. 419).

Other Attacks Against Reproductive Rights

The researchers also noted that efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and other family planning providers who offer abortion care "have flared at both the federal and state levels" since an antiabortion-rights group in the summer began releasing a series of misleading videos targeting the organization's fetal tissue donation program. These attacks tend to target providers' Medicaid funding, other funding for family planning and funding for related health care services, such as testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.

Meanwhile, according to the researchers, 10 states in 2015 "moved to regulate either the process for fetal tissue donation or biomedical research conducted in the state using fetal tissue resulting from induced abortion."

Advances for Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights

In addition to highlighting abortion-rights restrictions, the researchers also noted that "states made important advances in 2015 on other sexual and reproductive health and rights issues" (Nash et. al, Guttmacher report, 2015).

For example, Oregon adopted a law that allows adults to obtain contraception without having to visit a doctor (Rolling Stone, 1/4). Meanwhile, Maine moved to expand eligibility for Medicaid coverage of family planning to individuals with incomes up to 209% of the federal poverty level (Guttmacher report, 2015).

Video Round Up

KXAN's Shannon Wolfson reports on a surge in donations to Planned Parenthood following the election.

Video Round Up

KSN's Ashley Arnold covers the latest developments in the resentencing of Scott Roeder, the man convicted of murdering Kansas abortion provider George Tiller.

Video Round Up

In this clip, Fox 2 Now's Erika Tallan speaks with M'Evie Mead, director of policy and organizing for Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri, about an uptick in the number of women seeking contraception services following the election.

Video Round Up

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on "The Rachel Maddow Show" sits down with Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards to discuss the future of reproductive rights in the United States following the 2016 elections.

Video Round Up

CBS Austin's Adela Uchida covers a rally protesting a Texas proposal that would require burial or cremation of fetal remains.

Video Round Up

NBC2 News' Heather Turco covers arguments before the Florida Supreme Court regarding an injunction against a 24-hour mandatory delay law (HB 633).

Video Round Up

USA Today covers a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that found the "most commonly reported sexually transmitted [infections] [STIs] reached an all-time high in 2015."

Video Round Up

In this clip, NY 1's Natalie Duddridge covers Planned Parenthood's centennial celebration at New York City Hall.

Video Round Up

KUTV/KEYE's Adele Uchida covers a Texas proposal that will require fetal tissue to be buried or cremated.

Video Round Up

The New York Times spotlightsabortion-rights activism against a proposed abortion ban in Poland.

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Datapoints

In this map, the Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress" highlights the seven states that direct Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds toward crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), which use misleading tactics to dissuade women from seeking abortion care.

Datapoints

In this map, the Guttmacher Institute spotlights the 18 states that since 2011 have enacted policies that block funding for contraception or other health care services from being allocated to organizations that provide abortion care or are affiliated with abortion providers.

Datapoints

In this infographic, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) outlines data showing that the percentage of Texas women opting for long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) through three state-operated health programs increased between 2012 and 2013.

Datapoints

In this map, the Population Institute illustrates how many of the states at risk of the Zika virus scored poorly on measures of reproductive rights and health.

Datapoints

In this infographic, the Guttmacher Institute spotlights the increased proportion of insured visits at 28 Title-X supported family planning centers following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (PL 111-148).

Datapoints

In this infographic, the Texas Observer compiled information from the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Texas Policy Evaluation Project and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide a snapshot of abortion access in Texas.

Datapoints

In this map, the Guttmacher Institute highlights the effects of the Hyde Amendment, an appropriations rider that bars federal Medicaid funding from covering abortion care except in the limited cases of rape, incest and life endangerment.

Datapoints

In this infographic, the Guttmacher Institute tracks recent trends in state abortion laws.

Datapoints

In this map, the Kaiser Family Foundation spotlights five states and Washington, D.C., which have each enacted policies designed to facilitate access to contraception.

Datapoints

In this gif, Cosmopolitan shares research from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project showing that the average distance a woman in Texas must drive to access the nearest abortion clinic in the state has increased following the implementation of the state's omnibus antiabortion-rights law (HB 2).

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At a Glance

"A woman's ability to end her pregnancy too often depends on where she lives, her age and how much money is in her pocket."

— Marcela Howell of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda, discussing ongoing disparities in women's access to abortion care on the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

At a Glance

"If women are not free to make decisions about their own lives and health, they are not free. And if women are not free, none of us are."

— Abortion provider Warren Hern, in a STAT News opinion piece on why he continues to offer abortion care despite receiving harassment and death threats throughout his 42-year career.

At a Glance

"Not since before Roe v. Wade has a law or court decision had the potential to devastate access to reproductive health care on such a sweeping scale."

— Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, on a ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld major portions of a Texas antiabortion-rights law.