NEWS IN CONTEXT
Reproductive health in the state legislatures, January-June 2005
July 11, 2005
By the beginning of July, almost three-quarters of state legislatures had adjourned for 2005. Since January, 17 states have enacted 23 laws aimed at limiting access to reproductive health services, including measures to
- mandate parental involvement for—or reporting of—minors’ abortions (Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas);
- require that women seeking abortions receive counseling and wait 24 hours before undergoing the procedure (Georgia, Oklahoma and South Dakota);
- direct that women seeking an abortion be told that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks’ gestation (Arkansas and Georgia);
- open statutory rape investigations for abortion patients younger than 14 (Kansas),
- establish or fund efforts to provide abortion alternatives (Kansas, Minnesota and North Dakota);
- make abortion illegal if Roe v. Wade is overturned (South Dakota); and
- exclude agencies that provide abortion from participating in state family planning programs (Texas).
On the other hand, 14 states have enacted positive measures that will
- protect access to abortion clinics (Montana);
- permit pharmacists to dispense emergency contraception (EC) without a prescription (New Hampshire);
- provide sexual assault victims with services related to EC (New Jersey and Texas);
- mandate insurance coverage of contraceptives (Arkansas and West Virginia);
- expand Medicaid eligibility for family planning (Connecticut, Indiana and Texas); and
- fund research involving embryonic stem cells (Connecticut).
Some of these positive measures include restrictive provisions. Arkansas’ contraceptive coverage mandate specifically excludes EC, while West Virginia’s applies only to adults. (See Insurance Coverage of Contraceptives.) EC was also excluded from measures to expand Medicaid eligibility for family planning services and supplies in both Indiana and Texas, while the Texas legislation also requires that the program emphasize sexual abstinence for unmarried women and prohibit participation by—or referrals to—abortion providers or their affiliates. Texas, as well as Connecticut, also excluded women younger than 18 from the expansion. (See State Medicaid Family Planning Eligibility Expansions.)
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