State Update: MAJOR ACTIONS IN JANUARY
This update summarizes major developments in the states, including legislation that has passed at least one house of the legislature, executive branch actions and judicial decisions.
As of February 1, legislatures in 35 states (AK, AZ, CA, CO, DE, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MS, MO, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, SD, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV and WI) were in regular session. Legislatures in six states (AR, MT, NV, ND, OR and TX) will not convene in a regular session in 2004, and legislatures in the remaining states will convene later in the year.
Click here for updates from previous months.
Click here for a summary of state legislation enacted in 2004.
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Bans on "Partial-Birth" Abortion
The Utah Senate passed a bill to amend the state's "partial-birth" abortion ban. The bill would eliminate the current law's health exception, and allow the procedure only when the woman's life is threatened. In addition, the measure would delete the existing law's reference to dilation and extraction, thereby potentially making the ban applicable to a wider range of abortion procedures. The measure would also allow the "father" of the fetus and the pregnant woman's parents to file a civil action for monetary damages. The bill is now under consideration in the House.
Limitations on Public Funding of Abortion for Low-Income Women
The Utah Senate passed a bill to expand public funding of abortion to include instances when the woman would suffer irreparable physical harm as a result of the pregnancy. Currently, the state funds abortions only in the cases of life endangerment, rape and incest. If enacted, the law would become effective in June 2004.
Requirements for Parental Involvement for Minors Seeking Abortions
Michigan's legislature passed a measure to amend the judicial bypass provisions of the state's existing parental consent statute. The current law allows a minor seeking an abortion to obtain court approval in lieu of a parent's consent and requires that a judge consider the minor's maturity when ruling on the minor's request. The new measure outlines specific factors a judge must consider when ruling on a minor's request, including familial dependence, school attendance, academic performance, life experiences, the circumstances of the pregnancy, and the reasons for seeking an abortion and wanting a judicial bypass. The bill has been sent to Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) for signature and, if signed, will take effect in March 2004.
Requirements for State-Directed Counseling, Followed By a Waiting Period
A U.S District court judge approved a settlement regarding Alabama's counseling and waiting period law, which requires that the state develop informational materials that must be distributed to women 24 hours prior to an abortion. Among other things, the settlement directs the state to not include material alleging a link between breast cancer and abortion. The state has until March to change the materials. In July 2003, distribution of the materials was enjoined, pending a judicial review to determine the accuracy of the information.
Requirements that Abortion Providers Report Statistical Information to State Agencies
The South Dakota Senate passed a bill to amend the state's abortion reporting requirement. Current law requires the Department of Health to gather information on each abortion performed in the state, including the method used, gestational age and reason for the procedure. Under the new bill, the state would be required to include the name of the physician, a patient identification number and certain demographic information, including the woman's marital and educational status, her race and whether she is Hispanic. If enacted, the law would become effective July 1, 2004.
Regulating Stem-Cell and Embryo Research
New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey (D) signed a bill that bans cloning to produce a human being, but permits the use of human embryonic stem cells for therapeutic research purposes, including research involving somatic cell nuclear transfer, a process often associated with cloning. The law requires research to be reviewed to ensure that the project follows federal regulations. In addition, it requires physicians providing infertility treatment to inform patients that they have the option of donating unused embryos for research. The law went into effect upon signing.
Materials Claiming a Link Between Abortion and Breast Cancer
A California state appeals court upheld a lower court decision dismissing a lawsuit brought against Planned Parenthood Federation of America on the grounds that information on its Web site attesting to the safety of abortion procedures and denying a link between breast cancer and abortion is false and misleading. The judge ruled that the information on the Web site is not inaccurate and is protected speech under both the California and federal constitutions.
Penalizing Assault on Fetuses and Pregnant Women
Both chambers of the Kentucky legislature passed a bill to establish a fetus as a person within the state's homicide statute. (Current state law requires that a homicide victim be someone who is born and alive.) The two bills differ only in the punishment that could be levied: The House bill specifically prohibits the death penalty, whereas the Senate version would allow it. Both bills would exempt the pregnant woman from prosecution for any action resulting in harm to the fetus, as well as abortion and other medial treatment appropriately provided to the woman; the Senate version would also exempt the destruction of an embryo following in vitro fertilization. Currently, the bills are under consideration in the opposite chamber.
Production of the State Update is made possible by support from The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Prospect Hill Foundation.