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2021 Has the Most Abortion Restrictions on Record, Says Guttmacher Institute Report

According to a report released by the Guttmacher Institute last Thursday, 2021 is already the worst year for abortion rights in the United States. 90 abortion restrictions have been enacted by state legislatures in the first half of 2021 alone.

The report lists 11 bans on abortion passed in eight states, including Arkansas, Oklahoma, Idaho, South Carolina, Texas, Montana, South Dakota and Arizona.

Arkansas and Oklahoma have passed laws that ban abortion at any time during pregnancy. The only exception to this outright ban is when the pregnancy endangers the patient’s life.

Idaho, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas have all banned abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. The Texas ban is particularly restrictive, as there is no exception made for rape or incest.

“When you factor in the time it takes to confirm a pregnancy, consider your options and make a decision, schedule an appointment and comply with all the restrictions politicians have already put in place for patients and providers, a six-week ban essentially bans abortion outright,” said Dyana Limon-Mercado, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes.

Additionally, the Texas law allows any private citizen to sue a person who helps someone get an abortion after six weeks, including the abortion provider. This will make it harder for abortion providers to challenge the law, since any individual can use a lawsuit to enforce the ban.

“Texas is inviting anti-abortion protestors to police abortion clinics and harass providers, even though the state knows that these kind of bans are unconstitutional,” said Elisabeth Smith, the Center for Reproductive Rights’ chief counsel of state policy and advocacy. “The goal is to saddle doctors and clinics with so many lawsuits that they have no resources left to stay open.”

Alexis McGill Johnson, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said of the Texas ban, “With its private cause-of-action provision, this bill is one of the most extreme in the country and sets a dangerous precedent.”

The Guttmacher Institute’s report also lists two “trigger” bans enacted by Oklahoma and Texas which would become law if Roe v. Wade were overturned.

Montana passed a gestational ban this year that prohibits abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. South Dakota has enacted a ban on abortion if the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome, and Arizona passed a law banning abortion if there is a fetal abnormality.

Eight states, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and West Virginia have created legislation that restricts access to medication abortion, which places an unnecessary burden on patients seeking abortion care.

While numerous state legislatures have severely limited abortion access, a few states have passed laws to protect the right to an abortion. One such law, enacted in Washington, mandates that “college health insurance plans that cover maternity care must now also cover abortion care,” and a Hawaii law now allows advanced practice nurses to administer both medication abortion and procedural abortion.

“In 2022, one thing is clear,” said NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia in a tweet Wednesday, “we need to fight harder than ever to protect and expand abortion access.”

Sources: Guttmacher Institute 7/1/21; NPR 5/19/21; Texas Tribune 5/19/21; Feminist Newswire 5/20/21; Twitter 7/7/21

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