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19 States Passed 60 New Abortion Restrictions in 2016

More than 60 new restrictions on entry to abortion have been handed by 19 states in 2016, in accordance a year-end report from the Center for Reproductive Rights. The laws run the gamut from makes an attempt to ban abortion altogether, to extreme paperwork necessities for suppliers and measures that may prohibit the donation of aborted fetal tissue for medical analysis.

In sum, 2016 was a simply one other regular yr for advocates who’ve battled to guard women’s reproductive autonomy. Notably, nevertheless, state or federal courts finally blocked most of the onerous provisions, a circumstance that underscores how necessary the judiciary is in defending women’s rights.

Still, with the looming ascension of a Trump-Pence administration, the CRR notes that advocates should stay vigilant. “Given signals from the president-elect and new administration, we know that we must renew our commitment to defend the rights of women to make decisions that affect their health, their lives, their families and their futures,” reads the report.

One of probably the most egregious assaults on reproductive freedom got here from the vice president-elect, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who on March 24 signed into regulation a legislative package that included two notably controversial provisions: one that might forbid a lady from looking for an abortion based mostly on the presence of a fetal abnormality and a second that may require burial or cremation of aborted fetal tissue. “By enacting this legislation, we take an important step in protecting the unborn,” Pence said in a signing assertion. “I sign this legislation with a prayer that God would continue to bless these precious children, mothers and families.”

While Pence and others framed the laws as a approach to offer dignity to the terminated unborn and as a nondiscrimination regulation that may forestall the abortion of a fetus strictly due to its gender or potential for incapacity, advocates for women’s health noticed the measures not solely as an undue burden on women looking for legally-protected health care, but in addition as a thinly-veiled try at a categorical ban on pre-viable, first trimester abortion. “The law does not value life, it values birth,” Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK) said at a press convention after the invoice’s signing. “What needs to be made abundantly clear is that what this is really about is making abortion go away entirely.”

The ACLU of Indiana filed go well with on behalf of PPINK, looking for to dam the provisions, and on June 30 a federal district decide imposed a preliminary injunction, prohibiting the state from enacting the measures whereas the lawsuit strikes ahead.

One of the most important authorized wins of the yr got here in late June, when the U.S. Supreme Court blocked two onerous restrictions enacted in Texas, in what the CRR calls a “watershed victory for the reproductive rights movement.” In that case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the courtroom blocked a provision that might require abortion clinics to undertake pricey renovations to rework themselves into hospital-like ambulatory surgical facilities, and one other that may require docs to have hospital admitting privileges inside 30 miles of every clinic the place they carry out the process.

According to the state, the measures have been crucial to make sure women’s health and security. In apply, the measures led to the closure of almost two dozen clinics, leaving women throughout giant swaths of Texas with none significant entry to care. For many women, the restrictions meant having to journey tons of of miles to entry providers.

Confronted with proof of the geographical and financial burdens that the restrictions would create, the state put the misinform its personal protestations that the measures have been enacted with the well-being of women in thoughts. In speaking concerning the journey burdens dealing with women in far West Texas, for instance, a lawyer for the state famous that women in the El Paso space might merely journey throughout the state line into New Mexico to hunt care. Notably, that state doesn’t impose the very restrictions the state was arguing have been vital in order to advertise women’s health.

In its opinion, the Supreme Court positioned vital weight on the proof introduced by Whole Woman’s Health that the provisions created an undue burden, proof the state couldn’t rebut, signaling that going ahead empirical proof can be necessary and that the courts couldn’t merely defer to lawmakers’ statements of legislative intent, which beforehand, in numerous situations, had carried the authorized day.

Red-Tape Restrictions

Since 2011, the CRR has monitored some 2,100 legislative proposals proscribing abortion rights. More than 300 have turn out to be regulation – lots of them often known as focused laws of abortion suppliers, or TRAP, legal guidelines, that are usually red-tape laws framed as a way to extend public health and security. In actuality such legal guidelines are medically pointless and designed largely to assemble roadblocks for women accessing care.

In 2016, and in the wake of the Whole Woman’s Health determination, every courtroom that thought-about a problem to a TRAP regulation blocked it. According to the CRR, courts blocked TRAP measures in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Ohio. And state and federal courts took motion to dam (at the least briefly) different kinds of restrictions in numerous different states, together with Alaska, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

While the 2 Indiana provisions blocked in June weren’t TRAP legal guidelines, or just like the provisions at challenge in Whole Woman’s Health, one other provision at present being challenged by the ACLU of Indiana on behalf of PPINK does implicate that ruling. That case is pending, says Ken Falk, the Indiana ACLU’s authorized director.

Still, just because the courts have taken an more and more robust stance towards punitive abortion restrictions doesn’t imply states will cease in search of to enact them. Just days after the Whole Woman’s Health ruling – and after the Indiana fetal burial provision had been blocked – the state of Texas took steps to cross a brand new health company rule adopting its personal requirement for the burial or cremation of aborted or miscarried fetal tissue. The rule was slated to take impact December 19 – and was shortly blocked by a federal district courtroom in Austin after the CRR introduced suit, pending a listening to slated for January three.

Given the continued assaults on reproductive freedom by states insistent on passing new and extra onerous restrictions even in the face of damaging courtroom rulings – and given the setting that’s more likely to infect a Trump administration that prominently options such anti-choice actors as Pence – the power of the state and federal judiciary couldn’t be extra crucial.

Over the course of his divisive marketing campaign, president-elect Trump flip-flopped wildly on women’s health issues – although as soon as pro-choice, Trump ultimately embraced a number of the most excessive views on the rights of women, from pledging to make use of an anti-abortion litmus check for his Supreme Court nominees, to opining not solely that abortion must be banned but in addition that women must be punished for having the process. That has occurred in Indiana. While Pence was governor, the state efficiently prosecuted a lady named Purvi Patel for what prosecutors said, absent onerous proof, was an illegally induced treatment abortion. Pence has stated that he want to see Roe v. Wade consigned to the “ash heap of history.”

The present wave of legislative assaults on reproductive rights started after the 2010 mid-term elections, which introduced new conservative majorities to many state homes and governors’ mansions. While these elections may even have been a response to considerations concerning the financial system and jobs, notes Amanda Allen, CRR’s senior state legislative counsel, “we knew at the time that women’s reproductive rights would be collateral damage.” Since then, hundreds of payments in search of to limit abortion entry have been filed – and a whole lot have been enacted. “Since 2011, reproductive rights have been under a sustained assault, in which each legislative session piles more and more abortion restrictions on states where access is already extremely limited,” she stated.

Still, CRR and others – together with the ACLU and Planned Parenthood – have persistently fought these battles in the courts. “The Constitution provides strong protections against the types of policies the Trump administration has promised to advance,” Allen stated, “and we will continue to turn to the courts to ensure that women’s constitutional rights are protected.”

Top photograph: Supporters of authorized entry to abortion, in addition to anti-abortion activists, rally outdoors the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, March 2, 2016, because the Court hears oral arguments in the case of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which offers with entry to abortion.

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