State-by-State: Women’s Healthcare Developments Across the Nation

Women’s healthcare has become a controversial and publicized issue, especially in recent months.  Recently, a number of states across the nation have legislated on the issue, and the debate continues to rage on.  Today we bring you some of the most current developments around the country. 

 Last month, social extremism in Texas garnered national attention when what is being called a pro-choice “people’s filibuster” delayed the state Senate vote on an omnibus anti-choice bill until just after the midnight closing deadline of the special Session. But known anti-choice Texas Governor Rick Perry didn’t let the will of the people hinder his efforts to restrict women’s access to reproductive health care and called a second special session almost immediately. This week,  Texas legislators returned after a 4th of July recess and and wasted no time advancing this dangerous legislation that would unconstitutionally ban all abortions after 20-weeks, and  force all but 5 preventive health clinics in the state to close because they also offer abortions. After 10 hours of debate on Tuesday, the bill passed the state House of Representatives on Wednesday. It could come to a vote in the Senate as early as Friday- and is expected to pass.

At the end of June, Ohio waded into the abortion debate by including a number of healthcare restrictions in their budget.  The two year operating budget will cut funding to Planned Parenthood and public hospitals that provide abortions, which will likely have a detrimental effect on many other important preventative healthcare services that these organizations provide.  In addition, counselors who receive state funding will be forbidden from even offering a recommendation or referral for abortion services to victims of rape, and, in the most sweeping portion of the budget, women will be required to undergo medically unnecessary ultrasounds to detect a fetal heartbeat and will be shown the results before they can access the procedure.

In Wisconsin, a federal judge has temporarily blocked a new anti-choice law.  The statue contains hospital admitting privilege requirements, a provision which could restrict access for Wisconsin women.  Planned Parenthood and another medical group have filed suit over that portion of the law, which will now be suspended until the July 17th hearing.  Another part of the legislation, which requires all women obtain ultrasounds, went into effect as scheduled on Monday.

North Carolina has become a battleground for perhaps some of the most controversial moves by the anti-choice faction.  Last week, lawmakers added new abortion restrictions to a bill that banned sharia law (the paradox apparently escaped their notice).  The bill was created with alarming speed and without any consultation of medical professionals or regulatory agencies.  As such, Republican Governor Pat McCrory, after meeting with the Department of Health and Human Services, stated on Wednesday that he would veto the bill if it passed the legislature, saying “When the Democrats were in power, this is the way they did business. It was not right then and it is not right now.”  In response, lawmakers defiantly attempted a similar move later the same day, adding abortion restrictions to another bill, this time one targeting motorcycle safety.  Many legislators and the public were given little or no notice of this sneak attack, which appears to be part of a larger strategy to infringe on women’s rights before anyone notices. 

Of course, these are not the only states that have introduced anti-choice laws in recent months.  For a full breakdown of all the legislation passed this year, check out this chart from the Guttmacher Institute. 

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