The War On Legal Abortion Goes On

The Guttmacher Institute has put out a mid-year report on efforts in the states to restrict abortion and family planning programs, and it shows the war on the right to choose that gained great momentum from the Republican Party’s big 2010 gains has lost a bit of speed. The Institute recorded 39 new laws aimed at restricting abortion, with 14 being enacted in just three states: Arizona, Louisiana and South Dakota. There were 80 new restrictions enacted by this point in 2011.

The new 2012 restrictions run the gamut from the old familiar “waiting periods” (Utah, however, set a new standard with a 72-hour delay), to “counseling” on the alleged mental health consequences of abortion (Justice Kennedy’s favorite!), to full-bore bans on abortions occurring 18 or 20 weeks after conception (a total of nine states have those now) that represent a direct challenge to Supreme Court precedents. It does seem the terrible publicity about transvaginal ultrasound requirements that broke out in Virginia has cooled interest in that particular harassment technique.

All in all, Guttmacher now considers 26 states–where 55% of American women of reproductive age live–as having shown they are “hostile” to legalized abortion by enacting some sort of significant restrictions. That’s pretty bad for a procedure that is supposedly protected by the U.S. Constitution. But it’s nothing compared to the sea change we will see if Mitt Romney is elected president, particularly if he gets himself a GOP Congress to boot.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.