2007 State Legislative Trends in RH


Over the course of 2007, legislators in the 50 states considered more than 1,000 proposals concerning reproductive health and rights. These proposals resulted in 88 new laws in 38 states. While legislative activity about abortion was split between provisions to restrict or protect abortion rights, most of the activity around contraception and prevention was aimed at expanding access to reproductive health services.

Some of the more important legislative highlights and lowlights are presented below (a more extensive overview can be found here).

Highlights:

  • Abortion access: Three states took steps in 2007 to protect or expand access to abortion. Massachusetts increased the required "buffer zone" shielding abortion clinic staff and patients from protestors. Colorado and Montana have similar protections (see Protecting Access to Clinics). Also, Michigan and New Jersey expanded private insurance coverage for abortion services for public employees.

  • Emergency contraception: Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota and Oregon enacted new laws requiring hospitals to provide information on emergency contraception to women who have been sexually assaulted; there are now 14 states that require hospitals to provide emergency contraception information (see Emergency Contraception). The new laws in Connecticut, Minnesota and Oregon also require the hospital to provide the medication, if requested by the woman. With these new laws, 10 states require hospitals to provide emergency contraception upon request to victims of sexual assault.
  • Medicaid family planning expansion: In Virginia and Wisconsin, the legislature directed the state to further expand eligibility for Medicaid family planning services to women with an income up to 200% of poverty. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved both of these proposals, along with a third from Pennsylvania to extend coverage to women with an income up to 185% of poverty. This brings to 20 the number of states with income-based Medicaid family planning expansions and to 26 the total number of states with any type of expansion (see State Medicaid Family Planning Eligibility Expansions).
  • Comprehensive sex education: Three states took steps in 2007 to improve access to comprehensive sex education. New laws in Colorado and Washington require that any sex education offered in public schools include instruction on contraception as well as abstinence. Fourteen states now require that contraception be included in sex education courses (see Sex and STI/HIV Education). Moreover, the new laws in Colorado and Washington, as well as one in Iowa, require that all sex education instruction be medically accurate.

Lowlights:

  • Abortion bans: In the most dramatic attempt to restrict abortion rights, legislators in 12 states introduced measures to ban abortion. By year's end, however, only Mississippi and North Dakota had enacted new laws. These bans would go into effect immediately in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned. This brings to four the number of states with such provisions (see Abortion Policy in the Absence of Roe).
  • "Partial-birth" abortion: While the Supreme Court's April decision in Gonzales v. Carhart, which upheld a federal ban on "partial-birth" abortion, may lead to an increase in similar state legislation in the future, Louisiana was alone in adopting a provision in 2007. By enacting a law that is nearly identical in scope to the federal ban, Louisiana became one of 14 states with such a ban in effect (see Bans on "Partial-Birth" Abortion).
  • Informed consent: Several states adopted provisions related to the information a woman must receive prior to having an abortion. A new law in Arkansas requires a provider to ensure that the woman's consent to the abortion is voluntary and not the result of coercion; it is the eighth state to adopt such a requirement (see Mandatory Counseling and Waiting Periods for Abortion). A law adopted in Louisiana requires that women seeking an abortion be informed that the fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks' gestation, although experts differ over whether that is in fact the case. The Louisiana law also requires that the woman be told about the availability of anesthesia for the fetus; eight states now have counseling provisions on fetal pain.
  • Ultrasound: Laws adopted in four states include provisions related to ultrasound (see Requirements for Ultrasound). A new law in Mississippi requires every woman seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound and be given the opportunity to view the image. New measures in Georgia and Idaho do not require all women to undergo an ultrasound, but instead mandate that women be given the opportunity to see the image if the procedure is performed as part of the preparation for an abortion. Finally, a new Louisiana law requires that women be told of the availability of ultrasound services as part of abortion counseling. The state already requires abortion providers to perform an ultrasound on every woman seeking an abortion.

  • Abstinence-only: Since 1999, Missouri had required information on abstinence and contraception in sex education programs; it had also required that any instruction provided be medically accurate. A measure adopted in 2007 permits abstinence-only education that meets the federal eight-point definition, which asserts, among other things, that "sexual activity outside the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical side effects."

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  • invalid-0

    Interesting that you openly consider it a “lowlight” for the law to ensure that women and young girls considering abortion can make an informed decision.

    To be honest, it’s downright offensive and patronizing of you to be opposed to laws guaranteeing that pregnant women will be given information about the surgical procedure they are considering.

    I suppose you think it’s better that “they” don’t know (poor ignorant fools that they are).

    Elitist censorship, nothing more.

  • harry834

    as defined by these lowlight laws is state-mandated information that doctors are required to give, whether or not it is medically accurate. So these "informed consent" laws are anything but.

    In reference to censorship, the state-mandated materials, which have medically false info, ask that patients disregard any info they have been told, which is accurate info. So there's false info censoring out real info.

  • invalid-0

    that women can use. But not prolife propaganda posing as information.

  • invalid-0

    The fact that you are prepared to wholly dismiss the information as “prolife propaganda” suggests bias.

    Which specific pieces of information are not medically accurate?

    If you are not willing to engage the actual content, it might be that you are so caught up in being “right” about this sensitive issue, that you no longer care about the truth.

  • invalid-0

    In several states, doctors must hand out information packets that link a risk of breast cancer to abortion. Something that is NOT medically accurate. I’m not going to do your research for you so go and look it up. Look up what each state mandates for their “informed consent”. Then maybe you can talk about this like you know what in the hell you are talking about ok? Thanks.

  • invalid-0

    Fine. Here are some more links.

    “State Abortion Counseling Policies and the Fundamentals of Informed Consent”
    http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/gpr/10/4/gpr100406.html

    “Misinformed Consent: The Medical Accuracy of State-Developed Abortion Counseling Materials”
    http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/gpr/09/4/gpr090406.html

    “Abortion Counseling Requirements Often Violate Core Principles of Informed Consent”
    http://www.guttmacher.org/media/nr/2007/11/13/index.html

    This is what you get for jumping to the conclusion I am “biased”.

  • invalid-0

    about accuracy, you would dispense with the pot calling the kettle black. See my reply to Mr. Cannon, there are three links with specific information. The study entitled “Misinformed Consent:The Medical Accuracy of State Developed Abortion Counseling Materials” has a state-by-state table on their materials.

    Five states: Alaska, Kansas, Missouri,Texas, and West Virginia false assert a link between abortion and the risk of later breast cancer. (Only one correctly reports no link)

    Seven states: Michigan, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia false assert only negative emotional responses to abortion. Eleven states correctly state women will feel a range of emotions after an abortion.

    Five states: Arkansas, Georgia, Minnesota,South Dakota, and Texas include information on the ability of fetuses to feel pain. Most accurately state the ability of the fetus to feel pain isn’t developed before 20 weeks – long after the majority of most abortions are performed – so the requirement is somewhat moot.

    Twenty states: Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia,Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky,Louisiana,Minnesota,Mississippi, Nebraska,North Dakota, Ohio,Pennsylvania,South Carolina,South Dakota,Texas,Utah,Virginia,West Virginia, and Wisconsin provide referral resources for “crisis pregnancy centers”. A study sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman reports these CPCs have some of the same problems with medical accuracy.

    But only thirteen states (some overlap): (Alaska,Arkansas,Kansas,Louisiana,Mississippi,Nebraska,North Dakota,Ohio,South Carolina,South Dakota,Texas, and West Virginia) provide referral resources for family planning services.

    I suggest you read the article in it’s entirety for deeper analysis of each state. Is that enough “research” for you?