State Legislative Trends in 2010—Abortion Restrictions Once Again Dominate

The time is now. Will you stand up for reproductive health and rights?

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Even as state legislators were largely preoccupied by ongoing budget crises in 2010, issues related to reproductive health and rights nonetheless garnered significant legislative attention. More than 950 such measures were introduced in the District of Columbia and the 44 states in which the legislatures convened. By year’s end, 89 new laws had been enacted in 32 states and DC, an increase from the 77 laws enacted in 2009 and the 33 statutes enacted in 2008. (Click here for a detailed analysis)

As always, abortion received the lion’s share of the legislative attention, accounting for 39 of the 89 new laws. The new abortion laws are overwhelmingly restrictive, for example, restricting abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation in Nebraska, limiting coverage of abortion in health plans to be offered in the health exchanges (Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee) and requiring or promoting the use of ultrasound services in connection with obtaining an abortion (Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia). The reinstatement of public funding under Medicaid for abortion in the District of Columbia (permitted by federal law for the first time in almost three decades) is a notable exception to these trends.

States did take some significant steps to promote reproductive health in other areas, by mandating that sex education be comprehensive and medically accurate, by requiring coverage of contraception in health insurance plans and by allowing a health care provider to prescribe treatment for an STI patient’s partner without diagnosing that individual.

New Monitoring

Beginning in 2011, Guttmacher will be expanding its monitoring of state policy development to include environmental hazards to reproductive health. This expansion of our state effort reflects the growing recognition that environmental factors play a critical role in reproductive health and wellbeing. Information on state policymaking on these issues will be included in the monthly state update and chart of enacted legislation posted on the State Center on the Guttmacher Web site.

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Detailed analysis of 2010 state legislative trends

Major state legislative actions in 2010

Legislation enacted in 2010

The status of state law and policy on key reproductive health and rights issues