State Trends: Abortion, Personhood, Sex Ed and STIs


With the legislative year well
underway, some interesting trends are beginning to emerge in a number
of states. These include attempts in six states to declare a fetus a
person from the moment of conception-measures that not only aim to
ban abortion, but would affect contraception as well (more on this topic
below).   

By the end of March 2009, a
total of 704 measures related to sexual and reproductive health had
been introduced in the 49 legislatures that have convened so far this
year, and 11 new laws had been enacted in five states. One of the laws passed allows the
provision of treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STI) for
a patient’s partner (Utah), while two increase access to emergency
contraception (Utah and Virginia). The remaining eight laws are all
related to abortion. These laws: 

  • ban "partial-birth"
    abortion (Arkansas);
  • restrict post-viability
    abortions (Utah);
  • require abortion
    clinics to post signs about coercion (Kansas and Ohio) or to inform
    women about the possibility that a fetus can feel pain (Utah);
  • require providers
    to give women a list of organizations that would provide a free ultrasound
    and offer them the opportunity to view the image if an ultrasound is
    performed in preparation for an abortion (Kansas);
  • authorize funding
    for crisis pregnancy centers from the sale of "Choose Life" license
    plates (Virginia); and
  • create a fund to
    cover the state’s abortion litigation costs (Utah).

 

In addition, we are seeing
three major new trends emerging in states across the nation: 

1. 
Establishing Fetal Personhood
 

Legislators in six states (Alabama,
Georgia, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota and South Carolina) have introduced
measures similar to one that was soundly defeated by voters in Colorado
last year that would have declared a fetus a person from the moment
of conception. This strategy is being pursued by an emerging far-right
wing of the anti-abortion movement, in explicit rejection of what is
perceived as a willingness on the part of some mainstream organizations
to push for restrictions that would reduce abortion rather than ban
it entirely. 

[Note: The measures in Alabama,
Maryland and South Carolina are still pending, while those in Montana
and North Dakota were each passed by one chamber of the legislature
but then defeated in the second chamber; the Georgia legislature adjourned
for the year without taking any action on its bill.]  

Although they all seek a similar
end, the measures would take different routes to achieving their goal.
The bills introduced in Georgia, Montana and Maryland would put a measure
on the ballot in 2010 to establish fetal personhood, while those in
Alabama, North Dakota and South Carolina would formally interpret existing
state statutory or constitutional provisions to extend personhood to
a fetus. The wording of the measures differs slightly as well. The bills
in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina would define a fetus as a person
from the "moment of fertilization." The Maryland and Montana bills
would apply to a fetus at "any stage of human biological development,"
and the North Dakota bill would apply to "any organism… that possesses
the human genome." Nonetheless, all of the measures would affect contraception
as well as abortion. 

2. 
Mandating Medically Accurate Sex Education
 

Thirty-six bills have been
introduced so far this year in 20 states that would require medical
accuracy in school sex education. (In 2008, 20 such measures were introduced
in 12 states.) 

Measures have already been
approved by a legislative chamber in Hawaii and Oregon. A bill approved
by the Hawaii Senate in February would require that all sex education
in the state include information on both abstinence and contraception
and be medically accurate and age-appropriate. The legislation specifies
that the instruction would have to be in accordance with "accepted
scientific methods and recognized as accurate and objective by professional
organizations and agencies with expertise in the relevant field, such
as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the
American Public Health Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics
and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists."  

The measure approved by the
Oregon House in March would codify existing state regulations requiring
that sex education be medically accurate. It would also replace the
regulations’ mandate that abstinence be described as "the most safe
and responsible sexual behavior" for unmarried individuals with a
requirement to teach abstinence as "the most effective method" of
pregnancy and STI prevention for monogamous adults. 

Twelve states currently require
that the information provided in sex education classes be medically
accurate. In 10 of these states (California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa,
Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah and Washington), the mandate
applies to all sex education in the state. In two states (Alabama and
North Carolina), the requirement applies only to the information provided
about contraception.   

3. 
Treating Partners for STIs
 

In 2006, the CDC recommended
that health care providers treating patients for chlamydia and gonorrhea
also provide treatment for the patient’s partner, even if he or she
has not been seen by the provider.  Between 2006 and 2008, six
states (Arizona, California, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota and New York)
have adopted laws, and three states (New Mexico, North Dakota and Tennessee)
have promulgated regulations to allow physicians to write prescriptions for a partner, even if the provider has not seen the partner. Some of the laws also require that patients take home information for their partner, such as fact sheets about infection, treatment, and possible allergic reactions to medication. This year,
similar measures have been introduced in eight states (Illinois, Missouri,
Montana, Nevada, Oregon, North Dakota, Utah and Vermont); the Utah measure
was enacted. 

Bills pending in three states
(North Dakota, Nevada and Oregon) would allow partner treatment for
all STIs, while those in three others (Illinois, Missouri and Montana)
would apply to treatment for chlamydia and gonorrhea; the bill pending
in Vermont would apply only to chlamydia treatment. The new Utah statute
applies to chlamydia and gonorrhea, bringing to 10 the number of states
explicitly permitting partner treatment for at least some STIs. 

Click here for additional information
on: 

State
reproductive health legislative developments this year

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  • invalid-0

    Posting signs telling women their rights is a good thing. Women at abortion clinics should know that no one may force them to have an abortion. Autonomy is the point. I also see nothing wrong with telling women where they can get an ultrasound if they want one. Requiring an ultrasound would increase the expense and decrease the accessibility of abortion, but giving women accurate information, even if it’s just the address of a place where they can get additional services, is a good thing.

  • invalid-0

    I get so offended by these law makers trying to define what may be in my uterus as a person! Do these lawmakers really care more about the zygote that has the POTENTIAL to become a human being than the ACTUAL woman whose body the fetus is in. This country is so effed up!

  • invalid-0

    Posting signs telling women their rights is a good thing. Women at abortion clinics should know that no one may force them to have an abortion. Autonomy is the point.

    Which is why this is already one of the first points discussed when a woman sits down with an abortion counselor. What evidence is there that large numbers of women are being coerced into abortion, and that existing precautions enough, that this law was needed in the first place? Why is a sign on a wall better than a human being talking with the woman, for that matter?

    I also see nothing wrong with telling women where they can get an ultrasound if they want one.

    Even if it is at a crisis pregnancy center, where they are subjected to medically inaccurate information, proselytizing, pressure to carry the pregnancy to term, and outright slut-shaming?

    Requiring an ultrasound would increase the expense and decrease the accessibility of abortion

    Now you see why so many lawmakers have such a hankering to mandate it.

    but giving women accurate information, even if it’s just the address of a place where they can get additional services, is a good thing.

    Oh, I’m sure the address to the local CPC will be accurate.

  • invalid-0

    “Even if it is at a crisis pregnancy center, where they are subjected to medically inaccurate information, proselytizing, pressure to carry the pregnancy to term, and outright slut-shaming?”

    I love how people who slam pregnancy centers never off any evidence. And no, don’t direct me to NARAL or people who SAY staff at the centers said thus and so. Unless you have hard evidence on tape, then all you have are baseless accusations, no proof, and need to quiet yourself.

  • invalid-0

    I love how people who slam pregnancy centers never off any evidence.

    The modus operandi of many CPCs is well-known and documented. They offer unlicensed medical-like services, and subject their clients to pro-life ideological pressure. If you don’t want to hear it from NARAL, then look here, or here.

    then all you have are baseless accusations, no proof, and need to quiet yourself.

    Um, no, I don’t, and no, I won’t.

  • therealistmom

    … is every newspaper reporter who has EVER written a story about ANYTHING is lying? Because most of the time a reporter takes notes, gets information from people, and then writes their story. They don’t have "proof on tape". Their journalistic integrity compels them to write a correct accounting of events. (Of course this doesn’t always happen; look at Faux News and One World(view) Daily). Does that mean every conversation ever spoken of in court is suspect, unless there was a wire involved?

     Or does it only apply to pro-choice people, because they allegedly have some kind of motive to lie?

     Anti-choice people, sadly, the ones in the extreme edges of the movement, especially those who work in CPC’s, have motivations to lie. This isn’t to say every one of them do- but it is often codified in their literature that it is acceptable to do so, because they are "saving lives".  The founder of CPC’s even said flat-out that the young woman seeking a pregnancy test is a criminal murderer and must be stopped at whatever cost. The guidebooks give whole speeches of inaccurate information.  The CPC’s have been known to set up to look like a regular women’s health center- one even called itself "PP, inc" and set up shop next to a Planned Parenthood, and had to be stopped by court order! These things are documented facts.

    For the most part, pro-choice organizations do not have these kinds of "life or death" motivations, or an "it’s ok to lie in the name of god to get the job done" mindset. There may be one out there that has lied or pushed abortion, but it seems like they would be exposed in a huge hurry. Their motivation is giving women education and tools to make the CHOICE THAT IS RIGHT FOR THEM. That may be abortion, adoption, or keeping the born child. They also provide contraception and health care. There is no ‘motive’ to get women to have ‘more abortions’. Profit doesn’t count as a motive since the vast majority of clinics do NOT make money on procedures beyond operating expenses.

     So no, we don’t need to "quiet ourselves". It’s up to you now to show materials from CPC’s that are accurate, unbiased, and have medical worth. Come now. Show us.

     

  • invalid-0

    Thank you for your research, always thorough and trustworthy!

  • invalid-0

    What would happen if a women had a miscarriage if personhood is defined so early, also the morning after pill would be considered murder because it can prevent the fertilized egg from implanting in the lining of the uterus. This is ridiculous woman could be charged with murder if they got in an accident and the fetus died.

  • http://www.bookkeepingvalleywide.com/payroll-services.php invalid-0

    Sex education is one of the most important issues today. Teaching accurate and responsible sex education will teach young people not only good values but it is needed to keep them healthy as well.