A flurry of new abortion restrictions in Ohio and across the country
show how socially conservative groups are slowly but successfully chipping away
Four decades after the Supreme Court affirmed a woman's right to have an abortion, the battle has shifted from courtrooms to state capitals.
From 2010 to 2012, state legislatures passed nearly 170 new abortion regulations -- more than 2 1/2 times the number passed during the previous three years, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which favors abortion rights.
"This has reshaped the abortion-restriction landscape," said Elizabeth Nash, the institute's state issue manager. "The goal is to eliminate access."
When President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, there was a consensus among anti-abortion-rights groups to redirect efforts at the state level, said Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis.
"We take a very pragmatic approach, a very realistic approach," Gonidakis said. "It's not always sexy, but it gets the job done."
State abortion restrictions are gaining national attention after Democratic Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis' recent 11-hour filibuster against a proposed ban on abortions after more than 20 weeks.
Besides placing restrictions in the new state budget, the Ohio General Assembly also is considering a bill that would require doctors to tell patients the fetus will feel pain in an abortion, and that the procedure could lead to an increased risk in breast cancer. The American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen Foundation say no such link exists.
Abortion opponents have secured wins in at least five states besides Ohio so far this year:
--In Indiana, Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed a law in May requiring doctors to perform an ultrasound before an abortion. Wisconsin state lawmakers are considering similar legislation.
--In Alabama, a law takes effect Monday requiring patients to undergo an examination before prescribing pills to end a pregnancy. It also requires physicians to ask minors for the name and age of a fetus's father before performing an abortion, although the patient can decline.
--A Kansas law signed in April protects certain doctors from malpractice suits, even if they withhold information about birth defects that might have led the patient to choose an abortion. It also bars abortion providers from participating in public-school sex education.
--Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, signed a bill in April requiring doctors to conduct pre- and post-examinations for women seeking abortion pills. Previously, women were allowed to get the pills via telemedicine.
--In South Dakota, a bill signed in March requires women to wait three days to make a decision after consulting with an abortion doctor, not including weekends or holidays.
(c)2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
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Distributed by MCT Information Services
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