NEWS IN CONTEXT
States focused on reproductive health in 2005
January 12, 2006
State legislatures paid particular attention to reproductive health issues in 2005. A total of 98 new laws were enacted, just over half of which are aimed at restricting access to abortion. One-quarter seek to expand access to contraception.
In 2005, states enacted 52 measures that restrict access to abortion, including the following:
- South Dakota adopted legislation that would immediately criminalize abortion in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned, becoming the fourth state with such a provision, joining Illinois, Kentucky and Louisiana;
- Arkansas and Texas replaced existing statutes requiring that the parents of a minor seeking an abortion be notified with new laws mandating parental consent;
- New parental notification mandates were enacted in Florida and Oklahoma, while Georgia and South Dakota modified existing provisions to make them more stringent;
- Missouri passed legislation to prohibit helping a minor to cross state lines in order to circumvent the state’s parental notification requirement;
- Seven states (Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma and South Dakota) enacted mandatory counseling laws requiring that women obtaining an abortion be given specific information under the aegis of “informed consent”; and,
- Eight states (Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas) adopted or extended legislation authorizing funding for organizations that provide counseling on “alternatives to abortion” and services to pregnant women.
On the other hand, states enacted 22 measures designed to increase access to contraception in 2005, including the following:
- Legislatures in Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts and Texas adopted measures directing the state to apply for federal permission to expand eligibility for Medicaid-funded family planning services;
- Arkansas and West Virginia adopted laws requiring that private insurance plans in the state include coverage of contraceptives if they cover other prescription drugs;
- Massachusetts and New Hampshire enacted laws permitting pharmacists to dispense emergency contraceptives without a prescription; a total of eight states now have such policies;
- Massachusetts and New Jersey moved to require hospital emergency rooms to dispense emergency contraceptives to sexual assault victims on request, while Texas enacted a measure requiring that sexual assault victims be given information on treating sexually transmitted infections and preventing pregnancy, presumably including emergency contraceptives;
- California enacted legislation and Illinois promulgated regulations designed to limit the ability of pharmacists to refuse to fill physicians’ prescriptions for contraceptives, including emergency contraceptives; and,
- Governors in two states (Arizona and Wisconsin) vetoed legislation designed to expand the ability of pharmacists to refuse.
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