Elizabeth Nash is a Public Policy Associate in the Guttmacher Institute's Washington DC office. She coordinates the efforts of the state team, which analyzes legislative, regulatory and judicial actions on reproductive health issues and develops Guttmacher's monthly State Policies in Brief series and update of state policy developments. Ms. Nash joined the Institute in 1999.
Unlike in recent years, when the thrust of legislative activity was on regulating abortion, this year legislators seem to be focusing on banning abortion outright.
Reproductive health and rights were once again the subject of extensive debate in state capitols in 2012. Over the course of the year, 42 states and the District of Columbia enacted 122 provisions related to reproductive health and rights. One-third of these new provisions, 43 in 19 states, sought to restrict access to abortion services.
In the first half of 2012, states enacted 95 new provisions related to reproductive health and rights. As was the case in 2011, issues related to abortion, family planning funding and sex education once again were significant flashpoints in many legislatures .
So far, 75 abortion restrictions have been approved by at least one legislative chamber, and nine have been enacted. Here’s a breakdown of the measures that legislators are focused on this year.
By almost any measure, issues related to reproductive health and rights at the state level received unprecedented attention in 2011. And virtually none of it was good.
Elizabeth Nash is a Public Policy Associate in the Guttmacher Institute's Washington DC office.
It's only been about a month since the midterm election that brought significant prochoice victories, including the defeat of South Dakota's draconian abortion ban and the rejection of ballot initiatives in California and Oregon that would have required parental notification before a minor could obtain an abortion. And yet, it is already time to go back to work as antiabortion advocates are gearing up once again to continue restricting access to abortion services.
Stephanie Simon reported in the LA Times shortly after the election that one of the antichoice movement's primary goals will be to "expand or rewrite ‘informed consent' laws" – a favorite and perennial tactic. According to a recent analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, written counseling materials often contain medically inaccurate, out-of-date or biased information – violating a core tenet of the principles of informed consent.
Informed consent – the concept that individuals have a right to receive relevant, accurate and unbiased information prior to receiving medical care so they can make sound decisions regarding treatment – is a bedrock principle of medical ethics. Moreover, the obligation to provide such information is mandated by statute or case law in all 50 states.