Forty years ago, the Supreme Court legalized abortion nationally in the landmark case Roe v. Wade. And ever since that ruling, conservatives have vowed to not rest until it is undone. In 2011, in these five states, they’ve come really close to doing just that.
Louisiana ranks top at the Americans United for Life “Life List” of abortion-hostile states, and it is easy to see why. The state has embraced fetal personhood, passed a cumbersome 24 hour waiting period, bans insurance coverage for most abortions and has a law on the books declaring that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortions in the state will immediately become illegal, except in the case when a woman’s life is in immediate danger.
And that’s just the start. The state has aggressive feticide laws and the state is poised to try and pass even more restrictions including restrictions on medication abortions.
Oklahoma comes in at number two in AUL’s state leaders in restriction choice. The state passed a 20 week abortion ban, was among the first to mandate ultrasounds prior to having an abortion, and restricts insurance coverage for abortion drugs. Fetal personhood activists refuse to quit pushing the issue in the Sooner state, bringing ballot initiatives and lobbying for greater civil legal protections for fetuses.
Pennsylvania has a long history as a battleground over abortion rights. While we thing of Roe v. Wade as the key decision on abortion rights, in reality, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the decision that opened the door for the ongoing chipping away of abortion rights, came out of Pennsylvania. Anti-abortion activists in the state have led the way on such issues as spousal consent and parental consent. And as the state remains politically purple, abortion and restricting access to abortion will remain a key issue to bring conservative voters to the polls, which means we can expect to see more restrictions proposed in the 2013 legislative session.
The Nebraska state legislature is a unicameral, which makes it popular with conservative lobbyists since bills only need to be considered — and passed — by one legislative body. It’s also a deeply conservative state and one that is close to driving abortion underground in the state. The state already has a 24 hour waiting period, mandatory ultrasound, prohibitions against “coerced” abortions, a telemed ban and prohibits insurance companies from providing coverage for the procedure. With significant support from the Catholic Church and conservative Catholics affiliated with Creighton University, the state is also at the front of the battle against contraception.
Arkansas ranks fifth in the AUL List for Life in part because the state is one of a handful that has a flat-out ban on human cloning for any purpose. Hospital workers are free to deny rape victims emergency contraception, and the state also has a provision that would immediately criminalize abortion should Roe be overturned. The state has passed a series of onerous regulatory requirements that has left it with only one clinic in the entire state that performs abortions. That puts Arkansas alongside Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming as states with only one provider left to see patients.
What’s most amazing to me is who is not on this ranking — Texas, Virginia, Mississippi, Michigan, Alabama, Iowa, Arizona. I could go on because the sad reality is that abortion rights are under threat in every state which means women’s lives are under threat as well. Roe may be 40 years old, but the right to choose an abortion is hardly a sure thing in this country.
Photo from worldcantwait via flickr.