.- The progress of pro-life legislation at the state level this year has made the 2013 the second-best year on record for the number of abortion-regulating laws that have passed by mid-year.
State legislators enacted 43 provisions restricting abortion in the first half of 2013, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which support legalized abortion. The group said in a July 8 analysis that this number is up slightly from the same period in 2012 when 39 provisions were enacted, but down from an all-time high of 80 recorded in 2011.
Debate over abortion regulation has made headlines in 2013 due partly to the trial of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted on charges including malpractice and the murder of babies who were born alive following failed abortions in his clinic.
Arkansas legislators in March overrode a Democratic governor’s veto of a bill that bars most abortion after 12 weeks into pregnancy, on the basis that that is the time when a fetal heartbeat can first be identified through an abdominal ultrasound.
Also in March, North Dakota legislators passed three pro-life bills. One bill bans abortion if a fetal heartbeat can be detected. It will take effect in August if it withstands legal challenges. Another bill bans abortions that target the unborn child on the basis of his or her sex or genetic abnormalities.
A third North Dakota bill requires any abortionist in the state to have admitting and staff privileges at a nearby hospital that allows abortions to take place in its facilities.
Alabama enacted similar requirements. Seven states now have these laws, though two states face legal challenges over them.
Alabama now requires surgical abortion clinics to have the same standards of care as ambulatory surgical centers, joining 25 other states with similar laws.
Indiana in 2013 extended these standards to clinics that perform medication-based abortions.
Four states – Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana and Mississippi – enacted laws barring the remote “telemedicine” dispensing of abortion medication. Twelve states now have similar legislation.
The Arkansas and Pennsylvania legislatures voted to limit abortion coverage in the health insurance exchanges created by the 2010 federal health care legislation, bringing the total of these state laws to 22.
A new Indiana law requires a woman seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound, while Ohio now requires a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an external exam to determine whether a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
Kansas and Montana have passed laws protecting physicians from lawsuits stemming from claims that their acts or omissions contributed to a mother not aborting a child with disabilities.
The state of Ohio has barred public hospitals from making transfer agreements with abortion clinics, including emergency situations. The provision could mean that women suffering complications during abortions will face more difficulty receiving treatment.
The number of pro-life bills passed in the first half of 2013 was bolstered on Friday, July 12, when the Texas Senate passed a bill barring most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and increasing standards for abortion clinics.
The bill was introduced in the state House last week during a special session, as it was not voted on in the final hours of the normal legislative session due to a Democratic filibuster and disruption from pro-choice activists.
The bill had passed in the Texas House before it was considered by the upper legislative body, and it is expected to be signed shortly by governor Rick Perry, who called the special session to consider the bill.