Is the “War on Women” coming to a cease-fire?
Unlikely. But according to a new report, the number of abortion restrictions enacted by states is declining.
Fewer laws limiting abortion access were passed in the first half of 2014 than by this point in any of the previous three years, according to new data from the Guttmacher Institute released Tuesday.
Thirteen states have passed a total of 21 abortion restrictions so far this year, says the reproductive-health nonprofit. This is about half the number passed by this time last year, and one-quarter of the number passed by this time in 2011.
These laws include requirements that doctors have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, mandated waiting periods, bans on abortion after a certain number of weeks, and limits on medication abortion. Challenges to these restrictions are ongoing in several states.
Yet the number of restrictions still vastly outpaces the number of abortion protections passed. Three states have moved to protect abortion access, while four states and the District of Columbia have worked to increase access to other reproductive health services.
This year’s numbers do not necessarily indicate a change in sentiment or strategy. Guttmacher attributes the decline largely to cyclical trends: States historically have a shorter legislative session during election years, and some of the states that have been most active on abortion legislation are not in session during even years, including Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas. Other health care issues have also moved to the forefront in state legislatures, perhaps eclipsing the focus on abortion issues.
The several-year decline could indicate the surge of abortion restrictions is coming to a close, though this could be because so many have already been enacted. A total of 226 state abortion restrictions have been passed since 2011.