Anti-Abortion Measures Die with a Whimper

Women's health and abortion access have dominated state legislatures across the country and, until recently, dominated the headlines as well. But as legislative sessions are wrapping up and final decisions get made, there's been less focus on the issues. Perhaps it's because, in several cases, the bills are dying with whimpers instead of bangs.

This week, many of the measures look doomed. Idaho's pre-abortion sonogram bill died Tuesday, with pro-life activists accepting defeat—at least for this year.  According to the Spokesman-Review, House State Affairs Chair Tom Loertscher worried that the controversy around the sonogram could threaten the state's other anti-abortion measures. The bill did not have any exemptions for rape or incest and would likely have required invasive, transvaginal sonograms—the kind that got Virginia so much attention. Right to Life of Idaho has said it plans to bring the bill back next year. 

In Pennsylvania, a similar sonogram measure has stalled after objections came from the medical community, but pro-choice opponents are still protesting, just in case it comes back. Governor Tom Corbett helped stir the controversy when he told media he supported the measure and that "you'd just have to close your eyes" while the ultrasound was performed. The governor favors the measure so long as it does not require transvaginal sonograms—or as he puts it "as long as it's exterior, not interior." 

Meanwhile, Georgia's bill to restrict abortions after 20 weeks is all but dead, as the House and Senate debate which body is more pro-life. On Tuesday, the House speaker rejected the Senate's changes to the bill, saying, "They have decided to tuck and run." The original bill would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy; currently Georgia women can have an abortion through 26 weeks. Additionally, the bill narrowed medical exemptions and made no exemptions for rape or incest. The Senate amendments made an exception for "medically futile" pregnancies and did more to protect doctors. According to pro-life House members, the changes were simply too much.

But lest you think pro-life measures around the country are all dying, Arizona lawmakers are working overtime, pursuing two different measures that would restrict access to both contraception and abortion. Arizona's proposal to forbid abortions after 20 weeks is still very much alive—and Senate leadership appears to have revived the stringent measure to allow employers to deny contraceptive coverage to workers

Think Progress has a handy (and regularly updated) map of the different measures pending in state legislatures across the country. 

You may also like