Decade of abortion laws unevenly restricting reproductive rights: report

[JURIST] The Guttmacher Institute [official website] released a study [report, text] on Thursday detailing how the enactment of numerous anti-abortion laws over the past decade has affected the reproductive rights of American women and created discrepancies among states. The report notes that over the course of 2011 legislators in the 50 states introduced more than 1,100 provisions related to reproductive health and rights, of which 135 new reproductive health provisions were enacted. This was a dramatic increase from the 89 enacted in 2010 and the 77 enacted in 2009. In order to develop a picture of the current state of American women's reproductive rights the study analyzed the types of abortion restrictions passed in each state over 10 years, designating each state as "supportive" for passing provisions in only one category of restrictions, "middle-ground" for enacting provisions in two or three categories and "hostile" for four or more categories. The study found that over the last decade

[T]he 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 record-breaking 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 report shows that this year states have enacted 39 new restrictions on abortion access, down from 80 restrictions passed by this time last year. The report revealed that 55 percent of all American women live in one of the 26 states that have hostile regulations against abortion rights. Guttmacher Institute discussed possible causes for the decrease in anti-abortion laws, including public opposition to such laws and the shift in public focus on certain issues typical during election-year legislative sessions.

Reproductive rights controversy [JURIST backgrounder] has been an ongoing issue in the US. On Thursday the Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona [advocacy websites] filed a lawsuit challenging an Arizona law [JURIST reports] that prohibits abortions after 20 weeks into a pregnancy unless there is a medical emergency. On Wednesday a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi [official website] extended his initial temporary injunction following a lawsuit [JURIST reports] brought by an abortion clinic, blocking a controversial Mississippi abortion law that was supposed to go in effect at the beginning of this month. In June Louisiana Governor Bob Jindal [official website] signed a bill [JURIST report] that would increase the waiting period between a mandatory ultrasound and the procedure itself from 2 to 24 hours thereby heightening abortion restrictions in the state.

 

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