State Abortion Policy
Alabama lawmakers late Tuesday gave final passage to a measure placing stricter regulations on clinics that provide abortions.
The state House voted 68-21 to give final passage to the Womens Health and Safety Act. The vote came hours after the state Senate voted 20-10 to approve the bill after amending the measure to require clinics to tell patients what medications they had received.
The votes in the GOP-led legislature, mostly along partly lines, send the measure to Republican Gov. Robert Bentley, who backs the legislation.
The bill requires abortion clinics to use doctors who have approval to admit patients to hospitals in the same city. Some clinics now use doctors from other cities that don’t have local hospital privileges. A similar law in Mississippi is threatening to close that states only abortion clinic, which is challenging the law in court.
The bill also sets stricter building requirements, including wider halls and doors and better fire suppression systems. The state Department of Public Health, which regulates Alabama’s five abortion clinics, reports that most will not meet the stricter standards.
Under the bill, abortion clinics will be required to ask any girl under age 16 the name and age of the person who got her pregnant. She doesn’t have to answer. If she does answer and the father is more than two years older, the clinic must report that to police for investigation of a possible sex crime. If the girl is younger than 14, the clinic must report her name to the state Department of Human Resources for review.
Michigan abortion clinics will need a state license and must check to make sure women are not being bullied or pressured into getting an abortion under a new law that took effect Sunday.
Other regulations make clearer the proper disposal of fetal remains, after anti-abortion advocates expressed concern some were not disposed of with dignity.
A more contentious call to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy was dropped from the legislation last year and never went further than the floor of the GOP-controlled House.
Of Michigans 32 clinics that offer surgical abortions, four have licenses. The state estimates 16 more abortion providers need to be licensed as freestanding outpatient surgical facilities under the law because they perform at least 120 abortions a year. Licensure brings annual inspections and a $238 yearly fee, though facilities can avoid licensure if they stop publicly advertising abortion services.
Existing abortion providers also can seek waivers from construction or equipment upgrades mandated for outpatient offices.
Source: CBS Detroit
Abortions declined last year in Kansas by about 5.4 percent and dropped to their lowest number in 25 years, the state Department of Health and Environment reported Friday.
Advocates on both sides of the debate said the decrease can be tied to the Legislature’s ongoing approval of tougher abortion restrictions, including multiple new laws enacted since Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, a strong abortion opponent, took office in January 2011.
Kansans for Life Executive Director Mary Kay Culp said the decline in abortions last year shows the approach advocated by the group is working.
The health department wouldn’t speculate on why abortions continue to decline. Culp said she believes other important factors in the decline are the work of dozens of pregnancy crisis centers and the state health department posting detailed information about fetal development on its website.
“That is good news for women and unborn babies,” Culp said.
The health department said doctors reported 7,457 abortions last year, or 428 fewer than the 7,885 terminated pregnancies reported in 2011. The number hasn’t been that low since 1987, when doctors reported 6,409 abortions and that was before a 1995 mandate that physicians and medical facilities report each time they terminate a pregnancy.
Abortions peaked at 12,422 in 2001 and have declined 40 percent since.
Source: The Kansas City Star
Mississippi lawmakers are likely to approve a bill requiring a doctor to personally oversee the administration of abortion-inducing drugs and requiring the woman to return for a follow-up exam two weeks later.
The House voted 84-30 Friday to approve a House-Senate compromise on Senate Bill 2795. If the Senate approves, it would go to Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature.
The bill would bar physicians from prescribing the drugs remotely after consulting a patient by teleconference. Pro-lifers have said they knew of no such telemedicine abortions being conducted in Mississippi, but wanted to guard against the practice.
The Indiana House and Senate are advancing a bill whose result would be to regulate abortion-inducing drugs – and potentially stop one Lafayette, Ind., clinic from prescribing them at all.
In a bill approved 8-5 Wednesday by the House Public Policy Committee, a clinic that provides a drug that causes abortion, such as RU-486, would have to meet the same building standards as a surgical unit – complete with wider halls and doorways to accommodate gurneys, a recovery room and sterilization equipment for surgical tools.
Gov. Gary Herbert signed into law on Friday a bill requiring a report on why Utah women get abortions, along with others aimed at increasing access to public records.
SB60, sponsored by Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, requires the Utah Department of Health to prepare an annual report on the number of abortions in the state, why the patient receives an abortion and the race of the woman who receives the procedure.
The information is already gathered for the federal government but not at the state level. Dayton, who is pro-life, said the data could be used to inform debate on future abortion bills.
Source: The Salt Lake Tribune
Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed legislation Tuesday that would make North Dakota the nation’s most restrictive state on abortion, banning the procedure if a fetal heartbeat can be detect – something that can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
The Republican governor also signed into law another measure that makes North Dakota the first to ban abortions based on genetic defects such as Down syndrome, and a measure that requires a doctor who performs abortions to be a physician with hospital-admitting privileges.
North Dakota state lawmakers on Friday sent the state’s Republican governor two pro-life bills, one banning abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy and another prohibiting women from having an abortion because a fetus has a genetic defect, such as Down syndrome. They would be the most restrictive abortion laws in the U.S.
The state’s only abortion clinic is in Fargo, and abortion-rights advocates say the measures are meant to shut it down. They urged the governor to veto the bills.
Outside of Fargo, the nearest abortion clinics are four hours to the south in Sioux Falls, S.D., and four hours to the southeast in Minneapolis.
North Dakota is one of several states with Republican-controlled Legislatures and GOP governors that is looking at abortion restrictions. Arkansas passed a 12-week ban earlier this month that prohibits most abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected using an abdominal ultrasound. That ban is scheduled to take effect 90 days after the Arkansas Legislature adjourns.
North Dakota’s measure doesn’t specify how a fetal heartbeat would be detected. Doctors performing an abortion after a heartbeat is detected could face a felony charge punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Women having an abortion would not face charges.
Abortion rights advocates are claiming a first-round victory Thursday after an Idaho judge struck down a state law banning most abortions after 20 weeks – the first ruling about one of the fetal pain laws that a growing number of states have enacted.
The ruling, by a Democrat-nominated, district judge, begins a new phase in the legal fight over a spate of laws enacted in the past couple of years that push earlier and earlier bans on abortion, mostly based on the argument that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks. Arkansas is the most recent to act, passing both a 20-week ban and a 12-week one – constituting what abortion rights proponents consider the most restrictive state laws in the nation.
Governor Mike Beebe today signed the “Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act” that gives mothers legal protections when they are forced to defend the lives of their unborn children. The bill, Arkansas Senate Bill 170, passed unanimously in the state senate and passed the state house without a single dissenting vote before it was sent to Gov. Beebe for his signature.
This innovative and cutting-edge legislation was drafted by Americans United for Life in direct response to the problem of pregnancy-related violence against women. Studies have shown that violence and abuse are often higher during pregnancy than during any other period in a womans lifetime. A pregnant woman is also more likely to be a victim of homicide than to die of any other cause.
The Arkansas bill is part of a growing legal trend across the country. In the last three years, Oklahoma and Missouri have also enacted the Pregnant Womans Protection Act, statutorily acknowledging a pregnant woman’s right to use force including deadly force to protect her unborn child.
Source: Americans United for Life