Abortion Foes Advance Cause at State Level

In the New York Times Today:

About 370 state bills regulating abortion were introduced in 2010, compared with about 350 in each of the previous five years, and 250 a year in the early 1990s, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. At least 24 of this year’s bills have passed, and the final total may reach the high of 2005, when states passed 34 laws, said Elizabeth Nash, a public policy associate at the institute.

More significant than the number of bills introduced are the number and nature of those that passed, partisans on both sides agree.

“What’s different is that bills of serious consequence have actually passed,” said Nancy Northrup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, who characterized the volume of legislation as “an avalanche.” Already the center has brought suits to challenge six laws, more than in any other year since the 1990s.

Tennessee, which had not passed restrictions on abortion since 2003, passed two laws, one banning coverage of abortion in health insurance exchanges. The other requires clinics to post signs stating it is illegal to coerce a woman to have an abortion; 11 other states introduced similar legislation.

“This is a good year as far as victories,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee, who named several states, including Arizona, Missouri and Tennessee, that are now more open to restrictive laws. “I do get the impression that the climate is friendlier.”

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