State lawmakers around the country have proposed well over 400 pro-life laws in the first quarter of 2012 alone, according to a recent study on abortion-related legislation.
“In the first three months of 2012, legislators in 45 of the 46 legislatures that have convened this year introduced 944 provisions related to reproductive health and rights,” said an April 13 analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization formerly connected to Planned Parenthood.
“Half of these provisions would restrict abortion access,” the study noted.
The suggested pro-life laws largely consist of ultrasound requirements, bans on abortions after a certain point in fetal development, prohibitions on telemedicine abortions and strengthened conscience protections for religious employers who object to providing contraception coverage in health plans.
Pro-life legislation has been on the rise in recent years. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 55%of all reproductive-age women in the U.S. lived in states with at least four significant abortion restrictions in 2011, an increase of 24% since 2000.
2011 was a record-breaking year in pro-life legislation. Numerous states worked throughout the year to promote legislation that would defund Planned Parenthood after undercover videos revealed that some of the organization’s staff members were willing to cover up cases of statutory rape and human trafficking.
The first three months of 2012 are paving the way for another year of significant abortion restrictions across the country.
“So far, 75 abortion restrictions have been approved by at least one legislative chamber, and nine have been enacted,” said the Guttmacher analysis.
It explained that, since January, lawmakers in 11 states have introduced legislation to require a woman to undergo an ultrasound prior to choosing an abortion. Seven states already have ultrasound laws in place.
In Virginia, an ultrasound requirement has already been passed by state legislators and signed by Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell. The law will go into effect in July.
In February, a U.S. district court upheld a 2011 Texas ultrasound law, allowing it to take effect immediately.
Supporters of these laws argue that giving a woman the opportunity to see an ultrasound of her child is an important part of the “informed consent” necessary for an abortion.
Additionally, the report found that in the first three months of 2012 legislation has been introduced in 10 states to prohibit the use of telemedicine in medication abortions.
The proposed laws would require that the doctor prescribing the abortion medication be in the same room as the patient.
Furthermore, seven states are considering measures to “require the provision of medication abortion to be in strict accordance with long-standing FDA protocol,” observed the analysis.
In the first quarter of 2012, 14 states have also seen the introduction of legislation to ban abortion after a certain point in pregnancy.
Thirty-nine states currently ban some abortions after a certain stage in fetal development, such as the beginning of the third trimester, at fetal viability or when the fetus can feel pain.
In addition, legislation has been introduced in five states to broaden or create religious exemptions from state mandates requiring employers to offer health-care plans that include contraceptive coverage.
The issue of contraceptive coverage has taken center stage in an ongoing national debate over a federal mandate that will require employers to offer health-insurance plans that include coverage of contraceptives, even if doing so violates their consciences.
While the possibility of a religious exemption is being hotly contested on the national level, several states are working to alter their laws in order to offer explicit protections for the religious convictions of organizations and individuals whose work could be threatened by such a mandate.
In April, EWTN News spoke with Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, about causes of the increase in pro-life laws.
Tobias attributed the momentum of the pro-life movement largely to a growing youth component and continuing advances in science and technology.
She said, “America can see that this is a human being.”