Abortion-rights group finds anti-abortion regulations accelerating

The number of anti-abortion laws passed in the last three years surpasses all those passed in the previous decade, according to an analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights group.

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According to the group, 22 states passed 70 different restrictions on abortion in 2013, a number second only to 2011’s 83 laws. Overall, 205 restrictions have passed in the past three years, compared to 189 from 2001 to 2010. No year from 1985 through 2010 saw more than 40 new abortion restrictions; since 2011, every year has topped that number.

Leading the charge last year were Texas, North Dakota and Arkansas, which each passed laws seeking to significantly roll back the gestation period during which abortions may be performed. Each state approved so-called “fetal pain” laws banning abortions after 20 weeks, while Arkansas then went further and passed a 12-week ban, followed by North Dakota passing a ban after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, at approximately six weeks. These more aggressive restrictions have all been blocked pending court rulings, however.

Abortion providers were also a frequent target of new restrictions. Four states passed laws requiring providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, while five mandated new structural standards for abortion clinics.

Another common regulation was a ban on the use of telemedicine to administer abortion, which seven states passed.

In contrast, few laws were passed expanding access to abortion. The most notable of these is a California law allowing nurses and midwives to perform first-trimester abortions. Though not the first state to allow this, it is the first instance of such an allowance being codified in law.