A State-By-State Guide to 2012’s Anti-Choice Laws (So Far)

Posted on May 11, 2012

Jezebel, May 11, 2012 by Erin Gloria Ryan

No matter what you call this golden era in American legislating — the War on Women, the Imaginary War on Caterpillars, Tamponaroo — 2012 is, for better or worse, an exciting/harrowing time to have female anatomy, or to be a guy who enjoys having sexual relations with or cares about people who have female anatomy. But with so much bullshit swirling around, how do we keep it all straight? Here’s a handy state-by-state rundown of most major headache-inducing laws designed to make it more difficult for you to stay unpregnant.

For the sake of brevity (and due to the depressing enormity of this list), I’ve condensed explanations down as much as I possibly can. I’ve also limited the list to laws that have actually passed or that are still under consideration, and so laws like Idaho’s so-called “double ultrasound” bill, which died without ever being enacted, is not on the list. Since this stuff changes on the daily, this list is far from exhaustive, but if you want more information, you can find it here or here.


Anti-choice advocates here are working to closing down individual abortion clinics, most recently succeeding in launching a bullshit investigation against New Women All Women in Birmingham that resulted in the clinic’s ordered May 18th closure. NWAW’s offense, according to the Daily Kos? Having doctors with difficult-to-read handwriting.


In March, Republican Governor Sean Parnell signed a law that will begin production of “Choose Life” license plates (uh, at least the plates advocate the act of choosing? Maybe?). During the same month, the House passed a budget that would limit use of public funds for low-income women’s abortion to situations involving rape, incest, or threats to the life of the mother.


Arizona’s been rife with fuckery this year. Most noteworthy is the nation’s most extreme 20-week ban on abortion, signed into law last month by Republican governor Jan Brewer. It’s the only law of its kind in the country that measures pregnancy from a woman’s last missed period — in layman’s terms, other 20-week bans measure fetal age based on when the pregnancy was conceived, not a woman’s LMP. Since most doctors measure pregnancy by LMP, and since the 20-week scan is usually the point in a woman’s pregnancy when doctors are first able to detect many serious birth defects, Arizona’s law basically gives women facing serious fetal abnormalities zero time to decide whether or not to make the difficult decision to terminate their pregnancies. Other 20-week bans are written in such a way that a woman facing serious abnormalities in a wanted pregnancy has about 2 weeks to decide what to do before her options disappear. Arizona’s is a completely heartless law.

The state’s enacted a bill preventing “wrongful birth” lawsuits, which means that a doctor can lie to parents about the health of the fetus if s/he thinks the parents will abort due to a birth defect and theoretically be immune to lawsuits.

The state also enacted a bill enforcing “outdated FDA protocol” and limiting doctors’ freedom to utilize newer methods of medicinal abortion that are safer and produce fewer side effects.

And! A bill’s been enacted that will require that abortion providers have admitting privileges at hospitals 30 miles or less from their clinics.

Opposite high five, Arizona. (What’s the opposite of a high five? A nutsack punch?)


It’s not on the ballot yet, but “personhood” advocates are working to include a constitutional provision that defines life as beginning at the moment of conception up to a popular vote. A similar measure was roundly defeated in Mississippi last fall, and earlier this year, the Oklahoma State Supreme Court ruled that Oklahoma’s proposed personhood amendment was blatantly unconstitutional.


Sorry, laid back liberals — the stupid force is still strong here. Personhood advocates are trying to get a “life begins at conception” proposition on the ballot this fall, and anti-abortion rights activists are trying to obtain enough signatures for a ballot initiative that would require teens to get their parents involved and wait for 48 hours before having abortions, even in the case of rape an incest. Bypassing the legislative branch entirely is a great way to get shit done, I guess.


Undaunted by sound, decisive defeats in the state in both 2008 and 2010, by Mississippi’s overwhelming rejection of the idea of personhood, and by Oklahoma’s State Supreme Court dismissal of personhood laws, personhood advocates are pressing ahead with yet another personhood measure on Colorado’s ballot this November. They’re nothing if not tenacious; but then again, so are cockroaches.


Oh, Florida. The home of carnival accidents, two of my ex boyfriends, Casey Anthony, Ozzie Guillen, and gator-toy dog tragedies is also home to a host of shitty new and pending abortion restrictions. Voters in the state are actually going to vote on a provision that would eliminate women’s right to privacy, presumably in an attempt to undo the underlying reasoning behind Roe. Voters in the state will also likely be asked to determine whether or not employers should be able to determine what sort of health insurance coverage is provided to their female employees. In other words: The Blunt Amendment: Miami. (David Caruso would say, “Looks like the only people getting fucked in Florida…. are women.” Yeeeoooow.”)

Legislators considered at least seven bills designed to limit abortion rights this session, but none of them were carried to term — erm, passed.


This fall, Georgia may offer its voters the chance to vote on a “personhood” measure that would grant full human rights to fertilized eggs. It’s gone over so well everywhere else, there’s no way this could possibly go wrong!

Additionally, Georgia’s Republican Governor Nathan Deal signed a “fetal pain” law, which bans abortions on fetuses that are more than 20 weeks old on the nonfactual grounds that at that point, a fetus can feel pain. Georgia scientists are working tirelessly to ignore the fact that women can feel pain at all points of a pregnancy.


Laws granting additional funding to so-called “crisis pregnancy centers,” expanding “conscience rights” of medical professionals (in Kansas, they’re calling it a “refusal clause,” and it applies mainly to abortion and contraceptive services), and another measure that at one point threatened the University of Kansas’ OB-GYN program are making their way through the state’s legislature, having passed at least one chamber. The “refusal clause” bill will allow doctors to lie to women about birth defects and withhold cancer treatment in the interest of saving the fetus. This week, the bill was stalled in the Senate.


A mandatory ultrasound law and a law restricting “telebortions” (that’s where a doctor Skypes in an prescribes RU-486 without being in the room with the patient) are both making their way through the state’s legislature.


The full Senate is set to consider a bill that would make it a crime to coerce a woman into having an abortion. No word on whether or not similar standards apply to coercing a woman into a pregnancy she doesn’t want!


There’s a reason the loon is the official state bird of the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Lawmakers there are busy trying to add a personhood amendment to the state’s ballot this fall, and to restrict the use of public funds for abortion services for poor women and state employees. Update: The Land of 10,000 Lakes has adjourned its legislative session with no new anti-choice bills signed into law.


The following measures have been considered in Mississippi in the last year: a heartbeat bill, which would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat could be detected, a personhood amendment, which would outlaw abortion because zygotes are totally people if the people say they are, and a bill banning “telemedicine” abortions, a bill criminalizing assisting a minor in having an abortion without her parents’ consent. Recently, Governor Bryant signed into law new regulations that threaten the existence of the state’s only remaining abortion clinic.


The following two bills may be up for public consideration in November: a bill that would only fund abortions for low-income women on public assistance if the woman’s life was in danger and force women pregnant due to rape or incest to pay for their own abortions themselves or carry the pregnancy to term, and a bill that mirrors the failed Blunt Amendment, which will allow a woman’s boss to determine whether or not contraception or abortion is covered by insurance.

The legislature also considered a bill that would have funneled $1.6 million to “crisis pregnancy centers,” which don’t provide abortion referrals but do provide proclamations that women who want abortions are hellbound and another measure that would have strengthened “conscience clauses.”


Same shit, different state. Anti-abortion rights advocates want to strengthen parental consent laws for minors and introduce a “personhood” ballot measure to voters.


Personhood advocates are working tirelessly to get another “zygotes are people, too” on the ballot here.

New Hampshire

Live free or die… unless you’re a lady. The legislature there has considered a fetal pain law similar to Georgia’s, a ban on “partial birth” abortions (which aren’t even A Thing), a 24 hour waiting period and mandatory counseling, and a strengthening of “conscience clauses” that would allow medical professionals to refuse to assist women in abortions, among other crap.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, conservatives in the legislature are attempting to include on the ballot a measure that would limit the circumstances under which low-income women could use public funds to pay for abortion care. The Garden State’s constitution currently contains a provision that bars laws that mandate parental involvement in abortion, and anti-abortion rights politicians are trying to get those pesky rights removed.

North Dakota

North Dakotans, on June 12, you’ll have the chance to vote on Measure 3. What will happen if it passes? Your boss will be able to deny birth control coverage, just because. So vote.


What’s round at both ends and WTF in the middle? The state of Ohio. Personhood advocates there are scrambling to get enough signatures in order to get a personhood measure on this fall’s ballot. Their deadline is July 4. And lest we forget: last year, state legislatures attempted to get a fetus to testify in favor of a “heartbeat bill,” which. I can’t even.


An effort to add a “personhood” initiative to this fall’s ballot was unanimously deemed unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court back in April. In March, a state district judge ruled that the state’s mandatory ultrasound law was unconstitutional because it singled out abortion from other medical procedures, but the State of Oklahoma will likely appeal this to the State Supreme Court. Other legislative attempts to control Oklahoma’s ovaries have stalled, or fallen flat.


Hey, you west coast outdoorsy types! Did you know that your state may be considering a personhood amendment this fall? Vote, please.

South Carolina

There’s a 20-week abortion ban on the table here, and legislators are currently considering a bill that would make it illegal for insurance plans offered on Affordable Care Act “exchanges” to offer any sort of abortion coverage. The state Senate has also passed a bill barring private insurers from covering abortion. Woo! Small government!

South Dakota

A newly enacted law here mandates that women receiving pre-abortion counseling be told that they’re at higher risk for future mental health issues, even though the study that linked abortion and mental health issues has been proven false. Gov. Dennis Daugaard has also signed a bill that will bar insurance available on the state’s exchanges from covering abortion care. South Dakota women seeking abortion care are also required to visit a “crisis pregnancy center” before receiving care. CPCs are often linked to religious and anti-abortion groups.


As of July 1, women in Tennessee will no longer be able to receive prescriptions fro RU-486 via teleconference, thanks to a new law that bars the practice.


In February, a conservative judge allowed a law requiring a 24-hour waiting period and a mandatory ultrasound to go into effect. A doctor is also required to describe to the woman the image on the ultrasound screen. Because ladies are too stupid to know what a pregnancy is!


This week, 72 hour waiting period law went into effect. Previously, Utah women seeking abortions had to wait 24 hours between having an ultrasound and having a medical procedure.


The state’s “personhood” law was defeated in February, but Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, who is not a doctor or a woman, signed into law a measure requiring a 24-hour waiting period and mandating that a woman receive an ultrasound before having an abortion. Silver lining, though, ladies — she can choose not to have one of those “trans-v” wands shoved into her vagina, if she wants.


The state’s Koch puppet Governor Scott Walker signed a law limiting insurance coverage for abortion and outlawing the use of telemedicine in prescribing abortion drugs. The new law also requires health professionals to double check to make extra sure women aren’t being coerced into abortion. Again, no word on whether or not OB-GYNs will be required to check to make sure women aren’t being coerced into pregnancy or motherhood.

If you live in Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, West Virginia, Washington, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, North Carolina, or Vermont, you’re off the hook — kind of. According to Guttmacher, those legislatures haven’t passed any terrible bills yet this session, but their session hasn’t adjourned, either, so there’s still time.

Indiana, Wyoming, Idaho, West Virginia have adjourned.

Doesn’t this just make you want to buy a box of America tampons?