States are imposing more restrictions on abortion and reproductive rights, according to NARAL’s 10th edition of “Who Decides? A State-by-State Review of Abortion and Reproductive Rights.” In 2000, 43 anti-choice measures were passed by state legislatures, compared to only 27 pro-choice. Over the past six years, states have enacted 262 anti-choice bills and resolutions, and Kate Michelman, NARAL’s President, expects more challenges in 2001 due to President Bush’s anti-choice stance.
Anti-choice legislators are attacking women’s reproductive rights with restrictive waiting periods, parental consent laws, abortion procedure bans, and providing funding for “crisis pregnancy centers,” where women are given misleading and inflammatory information about abortion. More states have already introduced similar measures in the 2001 legislative session, including Georgia, where the “Patients Right to Know Act” recently passed the House. The bill would require the state Board of Medical Examiners to create “profiles” on doctors, including the number of abortions they have performed, making doctors easy targets for anti-abortion violence. A federal jury in a Portland, OR case (Planned Parenthood, et al. v. American Coalition of Life Activists, et al.) has previously found doctors’ profiles created by anti-abortion extremists to constitute ‘true threats’ and may not be considered protected free speech.
The Feminist Majority Foundation’s eighth annual National Clinic Violence Report has found that forms of threatening speech (including “Wanted” posters, internet harassment, plus anti-abortion leafleting) occur at 35% of the nation’s women’s health care clinics. Anti-choice measures are expected at the federal level, with a majority anti-choice Congress and an anti-choice President. Just this week, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) introduced the “Child Custody Protection Act,” which would make it a crime for anyone other than a parent to transport a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion, further restricting young women’s access to reproductive health care. The bill passed the House in 1998 and 1999, but has never passed the Senate.