17 Anti-Abortion Restrictions Passed in 2017 & The Year Isn't Even Over Yet
In terms of women's rights, history will not be kind to 2017. It's only October, and myriad legislatures and governors have already put forward bill after bill to limit access to abortion. In total, 1,257 provisions for sexual and reproductive health legislation have been introduced — and more than 400 attempt to limit abortion rights, according to the Guttmacher Institute. On top of that, Trump's administration is moving backwards on abortion and birth control access. Here are the 15 most infuriating reproductive restrictions that have been put in place so far in 2017.
A caveat: Some of these will be challenged in federal court, and that could put a stop to some of the more far-reaching laws. Just Friday, a U.S. District Court judge blocked some of the worst laws seen in Arkansas (which you can read about below) with a temporary injunction.
But for how long? The Supreme Court last addressed an abortion restriction in the spring of 2016 when it threw out Texas' regulations on abortion facilities and the "need" for providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Even that decision was just 5 to 3. With Neil Gorsuch on the court, that likely puts the balance at future decisions at 5 to 4.
In addition, any any retirement or death of a justice during Trump's term could alter the balance of the court and open up a situation in which Roe v. Wade could be overturned. With that in mind, fighting these sexual reproductive rights restrictions at the local level is now more important than ever.
1) Kentucky Bans Abortion After 20 Weeks
The state became the 19th to do so. There are no exceptions for rape or incest after the 20th week — only if the life of the mother is threatened.
2) Arkansas Using Sex Choice As An Impediment
It's not just about outlawing abortion based on the sex of the fetus. What this legislation really does is make doctors investigate the reasons women are asking for an abortion, delaying the process because they must request medical records related to the pregnancy. Plus, if you don't want your primary care provider knowing you need an abortion, it violates your privacy.
3) Arkansas Also Uses Fetal Remains As Barrier
In yet another backwards step, Arkansas passed a bill that requires women to get the permission of the biological father before getting an abortion, or of their family if women are under 18. Supposedly it's to see what they want done with the fetal tissue after the procedure, but it essentially requires permission.
4) Arkansas Banning Second-Term Procedure
Some states are trying a different procedure than directly banning abortions after 20 weeks. The other strategy is to ban dilation and evacuation, the most common procedure to perform abortions in the second trimester.
5) Texas Bans Second-Term Procedure, Too
Not to be outdone, Texas also banned the second term abortion procedure called dilation and evacuation. Last year Texas saw its abortion restrictions struck down in federal court. This could be its next battle.
6) Texas Also Requires Fetal Burial Or Cremation
To make matters worse, Texas also passed a law requiring that fetuses be buried or cremated. That's not only upsetting, it's expensive, making abortions unaffordable for some women. It could increase costs by $2,000.
7) Arizona Wants To Preserve The Life Of A Fetus Delivered During An Abortion
Now in Arizona, if a fetus shows signs of "breathing, a heartbeat, umbilical cord pulsation, or definite movement of voluntary muscles," the doctor must attempt to "maintain the life" of said fetus.
Imagine going in for an abortion and having to experience your doctor trying keep the fetus alive for a short time. Even that would be unnecessarily traumatic for all involved.
8) Utah Mandates Dangerous Counseling
In Utah, the state is requiring that women seeking an abortion be provided with counseling that tells them they can reverse a medical abortion. This is not true.
9) Wyoming Wants You To Hear The Fetal Heartbeat
To personify the fetus, legislators in Wyoming passed a bill that would give women the option to hear the heartbeat. The passage is the first anti-abortion legislation that passed in 28 years in the state.
10) Wyoming Also Now Requires An Ultrasound
Not only does the woman have to be offered the ultrasound, she has to sign a form acknowledging as much. More paperwork cannot be helpful, and the ultrasound is not necessary.
11) Kansas Requires Abortion Providers Use A Certain Type Of Font
This might be the most ridiculous development of the year. In Kansas, a law requires that abortion providers provider their own biological information to clients including where they studied and their work history. And it has to be given in Times New Roman font, 12-point.
12) Global Gag Rule Outside The Country
Of course, things are not just happening at the state level. This was one of President Trump's first moves after taking office. It endangers women around the world who are helped by U.S. funding for health care. Because of this order, their doctors and caregivers are not allowed to refer their patients to abortion providers or give information.
13) Trump Allowed Cuts To Planned Parenthood
In one of his reversals from the Obama years, Trump has decided to allow states to withhold federal funds from organizations that provide abortions, like Planned Parenthood. He signed a bill that reversed a rule Obama's Department of Health and Human Services put in place. Now that kind of rule cannot be passed again under a new president; it will need to be approved by Congress.
14) Department of Health and Human Service Appointment
Trump actually put a person in charge of federal family planning programs who doesn't believe in abortion. Her name is Teresa Manning, and she has a history of anti-abortion activism. Even more outrageous is what she's said about contraception not being effective. And her job is overseeing programs that provide it!
15) Trump To Hit Free Contraception Hard
The Trump administration is putting into place a rule that would allow employers to deny their employees health coverage that covers contraception for religious reasons. This could reverse the huge downward trend seen in unwanted pregnancies and increase the number of women who must pay for this out of their own pockets.
16) Health Care Repeal Nearly Cut Planned Parenthood Funding
This one didn't come to fruition, but the fact that the GOP repeal bills included defunding Planned Parenthood is worrisome. Keep in mind, though, that activism largely kept these bills from becoming law. Activism that you contributed too.
17) Iowa Almost Saw A Waiting Period
This, again, has been blocked by the state supreme court in Iowa. State Republicans passed a bill that would require a three-day waiting period before having an abortion, but abortion rights activists argued it was unconstitutional.
Now there will be a trial to decide once and for all, but in the meantime abortions can continue. The reason this is important is that it shows being active at the state and local level really matters. In Iowa, the supreme court is appointed by the governor. So electing a Democrat in the next election is key.
There's plenty of hope nationwide if activists, like those seen heading up the Women's March, pressure their representatives, run for office, and make their voices heard — at all levels of government. Get involved and join them. There's a lot at stake.