Reproductive Rights Laws 2006

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The Guttmacher Institute, the greatest resource around for information and research about reproductive rights and health, has released its 2006 State Trend Report. It’s must-read material for those interested in the current state of reproductive rights in this country. Some “highlights”:

Over the course of 2006, 29 states enacted a total of 62 new laws addressing a wide range of reproductive health and rights–related concerns (see chart below). Although this represents nearly 20% fewer laws than the 78 enacted in 2005, it follows a long-standing pattern of lessened activity in even-numbered years that may be largely due to circumstances unrelated to reproductive health politics: 21 states only address budget bills:the locus of much reproductive health policymaking:in odd-numbered years, and legislatures in six states convene only in odd-numbered years.

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Four states moved to tighten existing requirements for minors seeking an abortion. Two states, Oklahoma and Utah, added provisions requiring parental consent for a minor seeking an abortion to their existing requirement that a parent be notified. With passage of these new laws, 21 states now require parental consent, 11 require parental notice and two require both before a minor’s abortion.

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Two additional states, Tennessee and Texas, adjusted their policies to ensure that those consenting to an abortion for a minor are, in fact, the minor’s parent. Tennessee enacted legislation requiring proof of parenthood, and the Texas Medical Board issued rules requiring that the consent form be notarized.

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In a closely related strategy, legislators have looked to promoting ultrasound imaging as a means of deterring women from seeking an abortion. Under a measure adopted in Oklahoma in 2006, abortion providers must offer an ultrasound image of the fetus during abortion counseling; this brings to six the total number of states requiring that ultrasound be offered.

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Six states took steps to promote”alternatives to abortion”in 2006, using three different strategies. Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania all provided funding for programs providing alternatives. . . . Finally, a measure enacted in Georgia will create”choose life”license plates, and will earmark funds generated from the sale of the plates to groups that encourage women to consider adoption instead of abortion; this brings to 16 the number of states authorizing the sale of these license plates.

The news wasn’t all bad in 2006, but you’ll have to read for yourself to see the good stuff.

- David S. Cohen

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