NEWS IN CONTEXT
State Legislative Trends: January to March 2010
April 13, 2010
By the end of March, 825 measures had been introduced in the 44 legislatures that have convened so far in 2010. Click here for a full length version of this report.
To date, seven new laws impacting reproductive health and rights have been enacted. Among the most noteworthy are measures:
- mandating comprehensive and medically accurate sex education in Wisconsin;
- allowing medical providers in Maine to prescribe or dispense a drug for STI treatment for a patient’s partner without first seeing the partner;
- criminalizing self-inducing an abortion or “intentionally or knowingly” causing a miscarriage in Utah;
- requiring an abortion provider in Utah who performs an ultrasound before an abortion to show the woman the image and offer her the option of receiving a description of it;
- requiring an abortion counselor in Utah to inform a woman seeking an abortion that the state’s counseling video is available online;
- allowing for an additional penalty for the murder of a pregnant woman in Wyoming; and
- permitting a health care professional in Idaho to refuse to provide services related to abortion or family planning.
In addition to these laws, 48 other bills have been approved by at least one chamber of the legislature, and some interesting trends are beginning to emerge.
Treating Partners for STIs
In 2009, six states moved to expand access to STI testing, treatment and prevention by enacting legislation allowing a health care provider to prescribe STI treatment for a patient’s partner without having actually examined the partner. So far this year, legislators have introduced similar measures in seven states (CT, ME, MO, NE, OK, RI and WI) to permit so-called “expedited partner treatment.” The enactment of legislation in Maine at the end of March brings to 15 the number of states with such provisions.
Insurance Coverage of Abortion
Not surprisingly given the visibility of abortion in the national debate over health care reform, the issue is garnering widespread attention at the state level as well. Action at the state level is clustering into two distinct categories—coverage under insurance policies currently being written in the state and coverage in policies that will be offered through the insurance exchanges created under health care reform.
Measures have been introduced in three states (KS, NH and OK) that would restrict or prohibit insurance coverage of abortion under plans currently being written in the state (another five states already restrict insurance policies). Meanwhile, measures specifically targeting abortion coverage in plans offered to public employees are pending in four states (AZ, KS, SC and WV), with 12 states currently restricting abortion coverage for public employees. Finally, measures introduced in four states (IA, MS, MO and TN) address the question of insurance coverage in the insurance exchanges that will eventually be established under the national health care reform legislation.
Ultrasound Requirements for Women Obtaining an Abortion
So far this year, legislators have introduced 32 measures in 17 states seeking to involve or further incorporate ultrasound into abortion procedures. They range from bills that would require providers to offer information on the procedure to those that would mandate not only that the procedure be performed, but also that the woman be shown the image (see Requirements for Ultrasound for more information).
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