Anti Choice Legislation: 2021 IS GOING TO BE A BATTLE YEAR
This is based on a Ms Magazine article which itself is drawn from information on the the Guttmacher Institute website : https://www.guttmacher.org/)
State lawmakers are facing multiple challenges in 2021: COVID 19, economy, racism, gerrymandering, voting restrictions, and healthcare to name a few. But despite all of these challenges, legislators have also made time to focus on restricting abortion rights. In the first two months of the year, eight abortion restrictions and bans have been enacted:
- South Carolina ban on abortion as early as six weeks of pregnancy (this ban has been temporarily blocked in court)
- Kentucky law that grants additional authority to the state’s attorney general to penalize and close abortion clinics
- Arkansas program with two restrictions—it requires those seeking an abortion to call a state-supported hotline for information on pregnancy resources and services; abortion providers are also required to document the hotline call in the patient’s medical records and with the state
- Ohio ban on the use of telemedicine for medication abortion
- Kentucky and South Dakota laws that penalize physicians for not taking medically unnecessary actions for a fetus, despite the fact that both states have existing laws providing legal protections for a fetus delivered after an abortion
- Kansas initiative for the August 2022 ballot that, if approved by voters, would amend the Kansas constitution to explicitly exclude abortion rights
This is highly unusual: In the past decade, there has been only one year with this level of action so early in state legislative sessions. That was in 2017, when five abortion restrictions were enacted by the end of February. In 2019, a year that saw many states focus on abortion bans, only one measure was enacted in the first two months—a “trigger ban” in Arkansas that allows the state to automatically ban abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns federal constitutional protections in Roe v. Wade.
The 2021 legislative session is also shaping up to be reminiscent of the 2011 session, which had the highest number of abortion restrictions enacted in any year since Roe was decided in 1973. As in 2011, the November 2020 state-level elections resulted in solidifying Republican control in many state legislatures. Also like 2011, state legislators are currently confronting difficult and complicated issues: In 2011, the country was in the midst of the Great Recession and accompanying state budget crises; in 2021, states have even more on their legislative agendas.
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