State legislators approved nearly 50 bills restricting access to abortion over the last year, according to a report by the Center for Reproductive Rights.
A total of 16 states, mostly in the South, approved new legislation, ranging from new consent mandates to stricter protocols for abortion medications.
While not all became law — including at least 20 measures targeting Planned Parenthood — abortions rights activists are using the trend as a call to action.
“The ultimate goal of these politicians is to criminalize women’s health services one by one until no safe, legal options are available to any woman who makes the decision to end a pregnancy,” the Center for Reproductive Rights wrote in its report.
Five state legislatures voted to lengthen waiting periods for abortions. Two states, West Virginia and Wisconsin, voted to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy; Michigan, Ohio and South Carolina also considered the ban. That restriction, which is now in place in 16 states, has been mired in controversy and has been struck down in several district and appellate courts.
Nearly all of the states have GOP-dominated legislatures and Republican governors that have long sought to limit abortions. In West Virginia, for example, there are only two abortion clinics.
“It is particularly troubling that these restrictions were enacted in a region of the country where care is already scarcely available,” the report said.
The exception was Rhode Island, a Democratic-led state that passed a law requiring health insurers to offer at least one plan that excludes coverage for abortion services.
Abortions rights activists were also given hope that one of the country’s more restrictive laws — the 2013 law in Texas — could be struck down next year.
The Supreme Court announced this fall that it would take up controversial provisions such as new requirements for doctors. But it will not review the state’s 20-week abortion ban, which was also included in the law.