Starting This Week, It's Harder to Get an Abortion in 5 States
Abortion restrictions are popping up everywhere, it seems.
While activists and celebrities protest a bill in Texas, Ohio just enacted legislation of its own.
A thousand miles from Austin, Texas, Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed new restrictions Sunday night as part of a new state budget. Ohio will soon require that women receive ultrasounds before having abortions, and the state will ban public hospitals from having written agreements with abortion clinics to receive women for further care after they have elective abortions.
Those laws won't take effect for 90 days, according to Kasich's office.
But new laws, already passed and signed earlier this year, went into effect Monday in Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi and South Dakota. Another in Montana, and part of a law in Alabama, would have taken effect but were blocked by federal courts. All were passed by GOP-controlled state legislatures and signed by GOP governors.
Here's what they do:
- Alabama - HB 57 : Starting Monday, women in Alabama aren't able to obtain "abortion pills" via telemedicine. Planned Parenthood has said that making medication abortions, like the RU-486 pill, available to women via video conference provides safe access to women who may live far away from a clinic. National Right to Life has suggested that supplying the pills without in-person medical supervision, and perhaps without a hospital nearby, can put women in danger.
Now, abortion doctors in Alabama must examine women before prescribing abortion pills.
When performing abortions on minors, doctors now must ask Alabama patients to state the name and age of the unborn fetus's father. The patients can refuse, but the doctors have to ask.
Signed in April by Republican Gov. Rob Bentley, the new law also classifies abortion clinics as "ambulatory health" centers - clinics that provide outpatient surgery - requiring them to meet the same fire codes. They must submit architectural drawings and sprinkler plans within 180 days and receive a certificate of compliance within a year.
For the time being, a federal judge has blocked a provision requiring that abortion doctors in Alabama have hospital-admitting privileges. The ACLU and Planned Parenthood filed suit over that provision in federal district court.
- Indiana - SB 371: Women must now be given ultrasounds before getting abortions in Indiana, under a new law signed by Republican Gov. Mike Pence on May 1.
Any health care provider that prescribes abortion pills must now abide by the same regulations as medical abortion clinics, and the secretary of state's office must now draft a new set of regulations for sanitation standards, staff qualifications, necessary emergency equipment and other requirements for clinics.
Medication abortions can no longer be prescribed via telemedicine consultations: Abortion doctors or nurses must meet with women in person and discuss the health risks of taking an abortion pill.
- Kansas - HB 2253:Under what's known as a "sex-selection abortion ban," Kansas now bans doctors from performing an abortion if they know it's being sought because of the fetus' sex.
Signed in April by Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, the new law also requires abortion doctors to tell their patients that after 20 weeks, a fetus can feel pain and that "the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being," as the bill puts it. Doctors also must warn women that having abortions puts them at greater risk of breast cancer - a point that's up for debate. The National Cancer Institute writes, on a Web pageabout such a potential risk, that "[N]ewer studies consistently showed no association between induced and spontaneous abortions and breast cancer risk."
Kansas abortion providers are also banned from participating in public-school sex education.
In 2014, the law will block some tax breaks that abortion clinics enjoy as health care providers and prevent women from deducting abortion expenses from their state income taxes, the Associated Press reported.
- Kansas - SB 142: Kansas women can no longer sue doctors for withholding information that leads them to decide against having an abortion, under this law signed by Brownback earlier in April. The bill bars women from seeking "wrongful life" or "wrongful birth" claims in court against doctors. If a child is born with birth defects, that child cannot sue - and no one can sue on his or her behalf - if a doctor omitted information that would have caused the mother to choose an abortion.
- Mississippi - SB 2795: In another ban on telemedicine abortion-pill prescriptions, Mississippi now requires doctors prescribing medication abortions to first examine women seeking them and to schedule follow-up visits after women induce abortions. Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, signed the bill into law in April.
- South Dakota - HB 1237: Women seeking abortions in South Dakota must now wait 72 hours after consulting with an abortion doctor, and those hours must fall on business days. Under this law signed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard, a Republican, in late March, weekends and holidays don't count in the 72-hour period.
Montana would have made it six states, as a new law requires girls under 18 to gain parental consent before receiving abortions.
Enacted by the heavily Republican legislature in April over the objections of Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, the law was set to take effect July 1, but a federal judge temporarily blocked it last month after Planned Parenthood of Montana sued to overturn it.