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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

In this clip, WKYC's Maureen Kyle covers a recent decision by a federal judge to grant a permanent injunction against an Ohio law (HB 294) that would cut $1.3 million from abortion providers.

Video Round Up

In an interview with AOL Build's Emma Gray, Tracy Droz Tragos discusses her new documentary, "Abortion: Stories Women Tell," which shares women's perspectives on abortion care and abortion rights.

Video Round Up

In this clip, WJHG's Matt Galka discusses Florida's decision not to appeal a federal court order currently blocking parts of a state omnibus antiabortion-rights law (HB 1411) from taking effect.

Video Round Up

Marissa Silver, a reporter with Coastal Television's "Your Alaska Link," shares the Alaska Supreme Court's decision to strike down a state law that required a minor's parent to be notified of her decision to seek abortion care.

Video Round Up

Fox 13's Matt McDonald reports on a ruling by a panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that blocks Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) from cutting funding to Planned Parenthood.

Video Round Up

Richard Besser, ABC News' chief health and medical editor, discusses a case in which a woman in New York City transmitted the Zika virus to her male partner, the first such occurrence reported in the United States.

Video Round Up

WHNT 19 News' Kristen Conner explains what the Supreme Court's ruling striking down two provisions of a Texas omnibus antiabortion-rights law (HB 2) could mean for two antiabortion-rights measures in Alabama.

Video Round Up

Ryan Braschler of WEHT's "Eyewitness News" covers Indiana University's (IU) lawsuit against fetal tissue restrictions included in an Indiana antiabortion-rights law (HEA 1337).

Video Round Up

KIRO 7's Essex Porter discusses the Supreme Court's decision not to review a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld a Washington state regulation requiring pharmacies to dispense emergency contraception (EC).

Video Round Up

In this clip, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow speaks with Nancy Northup, the president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, about the ramifications of the Supreme Court's ruling in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt to strike down two contested provisions in Texas' omnibus antiabortion-rights law (HB 2).

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

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 chart, Media Matters highlights the findings of a study showing how evening and primetime news programs airing on cable news conveyed more inaccurate than accurate statements about abortion.

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).

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 map, CDC documents the laboratory-confirmed cases of the Zika virus reported in the United States and U.S. territories.

Datapoints

In this infographic, the Guttmacher Institute highlights research showing how an increasing proportion of women who obtain abortion care in the United States are lower-income.

Datapoints

In this map, the New York Times highlights the regions in the United States where mosquitos carrying the Zika virus -- which has been linked to a fetal brain defect -- are most likely to spread during the upcoming spring and summer seasons.

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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.