Guttmacher Releases New Report on 2012 State Abortion, Family Planning and Sex Ed Legislation

By Rachel Walden — July 11, 2012

The Guttmacher Institute yesterday released a new report detailing the number of new provisions states have enacted this year related to reproductive health and rights.

In the first half of 2012, states enacted 39 new restrictions on access to abortion. Guttmacher notes:

Although this is significantly lower than the record-breaking 80 restrictions that had been enacted by this point in 2011, it is nonetheless a higher number of restrictions than in any year prior to 2011. Most of the 39 new restrictions have been enacted in states that are generally hostile to abortion. For example, 14 of the new restrictions have been enacted in just three states—Arizona, Louisiana and South Dakota—that already had at least five such restrictions on the books. Fully 55% of U.S. women of reproductive age now live in one of the 26 states considered hostile to abortion rights.

On family planning funding, the news is somewhat more encouraging, as fewer states (compared to 2011) seem interested in efforts to defund family planning providers:

In 2011, eight states moved to disqualify at least some family planning providers from receipt of state family planning funds; so far this year, only three states (Arizona, Kansas and North Carolina) have done so. A court has blocked enforcement of the Kansas measure.

In an unequivocal gain for reproductive health, five states have moved to expand eligibility for family planning services under Medicaid.

As for sex education, however, we seem to be sliding back even further into abstinence-only land:

So far this year, Wisconsin and Tennessee have adopted measures promoting abstinence-until-marriage education. In April, Wisconsin rolled back its 2010 law mandating comprehensive sex education and substituted a measure requiring information about the benefits of abstinence until marriage; the 2012 law does not even identify discussion of contraception as a recommended topic.

Get more information on these trends and other specific legislative acts via the new report, “Laws Affecting Reproductive Health and Rights: State Trends at Midyear, 2012.”

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