As states around the country consider legislation to limit access to abortion and reproductive rights, the outlook isn't bright for women's health advocates. Here's the latest from five states:
- Through a tied-vote, the Iowa Senate defeated a measure that would stop public dollars from funding abortions in rape and incest cases. Iowa currently allows tax dollars to fund abortion procedures for low income women if there's a danger to the life of the mother or if the pregnancy came through rape or incest. The House already approved the bill earlier in the week.
- In Tennessee, the state House has approved a measure that creates criminal penalties for harming embryos. The state can already prosecute someone for harming a fetus, but those laws don't include the first eight weeks of pregnancy. Of course that may be because, in the first eight weeks, many don't know they're pregnant yet and many embryos die from a variety of natural causes. The bill passed 80-18 Thursday in the House and now heads to the Senate.
- In Oklahoma, a so-called "personhood" measure died before it could reach the House floor. The measure, which passed the Senate, would have given embryos the same legal rights as people. The law would have effectively made abortion murder, and had no exceptions for rape or incest. Some have worried such laws would also limit feritility efforts like in-vitro fertilization.
- In Arizona, lawmakers are debating a measure to ban Planned Parenthood from getting public dollars. The public dollar Planned Parenthood receives in the state go exclusively for health services for poor women, like family planning and cancer screening—not abortion procedures. But pro-life advocates are pushing to end all funding to the organization. Of course, as the Arizona Sun notes, of the six states that have similar bans, three have court orders that prevent enforcement.
- The Minnesota House has approved a measure that makes it a felony for doctors prescribe abortion pills and not stay in the room when a patient takes the drug. While advocates of the measure argue it's about safety, Planned Parenthood has said the bill would end a program that allows women to take the drugs with a nurse in the room, video-conferencing the doctor in. Whether or not the measure passes the Senate, however, it's not likely to get past the veto pen of pro-choice Governor Mark Dayton.
- In Missouri, some lawmakers are hoping to increase the barriers women face to having an abortion. Under a bill approved by the Missouri House, those who need abortion drugs, rather than a surgical procedure, would face an additional physical examination 24 before the doctor could make a prescription. The House must take a second vote on the bill to send it to the Senate, but given that it passed 116-34, that will likely not be a problem.
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