Abortion at Risk: Where Does Your State Stand?

In the wake of Republican victories in the November midterms, abortion rights have taken a pummeling. On the federal level, as mapped out in the latest issue of Ms., the Republican takeover of the House presents a massive threat to reproductive rights. Already, the House has introduced a “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”

While such extreme federal bills are unlikely to pass given the Democrat-majority Senate and Obama’s veto, individual states have the capacity to determine where, when, how and how much an abortion will cost. And they’re keen to exercise that power, judging by the plethora of anti-abortion bills that have been introduced.

Here’s a breakdown of the most unconscionable new state level anti-choice bills in the continental U.S.

Descriptions of each bill type are available after the jump. Click on individual bill categories (left) to highlight states where that type of legislation is pending. To return to the complete map clicks “Bills”.

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Each type of bill would affect abortion access differently:

Abortion bans: States with pending abortion bans hope to stop abortion altogether. These bills would face constitutional challenges however, as long as Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. But most of these states have other anti-choice measures in the works should all-out bans fail to pass.

Clinic regulation: These bills are built on TRAPs: Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, adding countless hurdles that doctors and clinics must overcome before an abortion can be performed. Measures include mandatory presence of a registered nurse in addition to the doctor, annual clinic inspections and extensive reporting requirements for each abortion provided. All of these measures increase costs for clinics, pushing up the cost of an abortion for individual women.

Counseling, waiting barriers: Bills forcing women seeking abortions to undergo extensive counseling on the so-called risks of abortion, such as mental illness and breast cancer–both proven untrue–or wait unnecessary periods of time before receiving an abortion, extend waiting periods and add barriers to reproductive care.

Felony to transport a minor: If you’re a young woman in Mississippi or West Virginia, be careful: It could become a felony for someone–even your aunt or grandmother–to transport a minor across state lines for an abortion.

Fetal pain counseling: These laws would require abortion providers to counsel women on “fetal pain,” a murky and inconclusive concept.

Fetal personhood: Bills like the Colorado ballot measure that was handily defeated in November would grant full personhood and its rights to fertilized eggs, effectively banning abortion and dismissing women’s rights to self-determination.

Health reform/abortion restrictions: Under health reform, state level health “exchanges,” where those uninsured by their workplace could shop for health insurance, would be mandatory. But health exchanges will be managed by state governments, giving legislators the power to restrict private insurance abortion coverage in these insurance marketplaces.

Hospital requirements: Some states have introduced bills requiring abortions to be performed exclusively in hospitals, and abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges. Other bills stipulate that only doctors, rather than nurse practitioners, can provide abortions. This, again, makes abortion an expensive service for clinics to provide, driving up the cost of abortions for women.

Mandatory ultrasound: Mandatory ultrasounds are often meant to discourage women from having abortions. They are also costly for clinics and women.

Mandatory parental consent, parental notice and judicial bypass for minors: There are a host of restrictive bills pending for minors seeking abortions, most notably those requiring parental consent or notification, or judicial bypass obstacles for those who can not have or do not want their parents involved.

Pre- and post-viability restrictions: Some states seek to restrict the number of weeks at which an abortion can be performed, ranging from 12 weeks (in Iowa) to banning all abortion, even in the case of severe fetal anomalies or risk to the health of the woman, at 24 weeks.

Private insurance restrictions: Oklahoma, Indiana and South Carolina want to ban private insurance companies, even those outside of health exchange marketplaces, from providing abortion coverage in any circumstance.

Public funding restrictions: Washington, Minnesota, West Virginia and New Jersey all have bills pending to restrict public funding for abortions.

Telemedicine abortion bans: Women seeking abortions in Iowa can obtain medical abortions (Mifepristone) via a virtual consultation with a physician, but lawmakers in that state and in Arizona are looking to ban the practice.

Elizabeth Nash, a state policy expert at the Guttmacher Institute, says state-level anti-choice bills are very like to pass:

There is a lot of momentum behind anti-choice efforts right now. It does seem like the legislators that have been elected are very interested in restricting abortion access.

But Nash says pro-choice activists must continue to fight, intelligently and with facts. “The thing we must not do is give up,” she says. “We can win this.”

For more on what you can do to protect reproductive rights in your state, pick up the latest issue of Ms

Map via Tableau Public; research from the Guttmacher Institute and Ms.


Stephanie hails from Toronto, Canada. She is a Ms. writer, a master of journalism candidate and a hip hop dancer/instructor/choreographer. She got her start in feminist journalism at the age of 16 when she was a member of the first editorial collective at Shameless magazine—and she has never looked back.