More Than 200 Anti-Choice Bills Proposed in State Legislatures Since January
Anti-choice lawmakers in state legislatures nationwide have continued a steady crackdown on abortion rights in 2015, while also introducing some never before seen kinds of legislation that would restrict reproductive health care in radical and sometimes unforeseen ways.
The wave of anti-choice bills in 2015 continues a multi-year campaign by state lawmakers to restrict reproductive rights; this effort has in part been coordinated by well-funded anti-choice organizations such as Americans United for Life (AUL) and the National Right to Life Committee.
Since the 2010 midterm elections, when Republicans made massive gains across the country, hundreds of anti-choice bills have been introduced in state legislatures, and more of those bills have become law in that time than during the entire decade prior.
Amanda Allen, state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, told RH Reality Check that the election of GOP majorities in state legislatures and Republican governors during the 2010 midterms are largely responsible for the wave of anti-choice legislation, despite the fact that abortion rights were not a major political factor during those campaigns.
“That election was not a referendum on reproductive health and on abortion,” Allen said. “But we’re still seeing the impacts of those elections today.”
There have been at least 235 anti-choice bills introduced in state legislatures in the first three months of 2015—bills that would place restrictions on abortion providers or erect barriers to abortion access, according to analysis by RH Reality Check.
Thirty-two bills have been voted on and passed by at least one legislative chamber so far this year; 11 of those have been passed by both chambers, and have either been signed by the governor or are awaiting signature.
Almost every state legislature has been in session this year, and so far lawmakers in 39 states have introduced at least one bill to restrict reproductive rights. While there have been a few anti-choice bills introduced in most state legislatures, lawmakers in some states have been busy introducing astonishing numbers of anti-choice proposals.
“In terms of the numbers, we’ve had a pretty good run of it these last few years, and this year we will pass substantive legislation as well,” Mary Spaulding Balch, state policy director for anti-choice National Right to Life Committee, told the Washington Examiner. “At the end of the day, I would bet we’ll have a pretty good year.”
No other state in the country has seen more anti-choice bills introduced in 2015 than Texas, which has seen 25 such bills proposed this year. Lawmakers there appear to be making up for lost time, since the biennial legislature was not in session in 2014.
Legislators in Missouri introduced more anti-choice bills last year than any other state. The state’s lawmakers who are opposed to abortion rights continued their aggressive assault on such rights this year, with 20 anti-choice bills introduced so far in the state.
Voters in Tennessee last year approved an amendment to the state constitution to allow the legislature to consider legislation to regulate abortion, and state lawmakers wasted no time introducing bills to crack down on reproductive freedom. This year a dozen anti-choice bills have been introduced in the state, many of which seek to reinstate laws previously struck down by the state supreme court.
Tennessee’s spate of anti-choice measures was fairly predictable in a state legislature where three in four legislators are Republican.
State lawmakers in Minnesota, Iowa, and South Carolina have also introduced several anti-choice bills: 14, 11, and 12, respectively.
Photo: Texas State Capitol Building.