Legislation Watch 2011 - What's Going on in Your State?

January 10, 2011

Not surprisingly, bills to roll back reproductive rights and defund related services are already being introduced in the now-more-Republican House of Representative and in state congresses. Via the Women’s Health Policy Alert, we learned that U.S. Representative Mike Pence has introduced the “Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act” (HR 217) to “to prohibit family planning grants from being awarded to any entity that performs abortions.”

In other words, clinics such as those run by Planned Parenthood (Pence’s stated target) should not receive any Title X funding in order to provide contraception, reproductive cancer screening, pregnancy testing, STI treatment, and other family planning services to low income people because they also perform abortions, although existing restrictions already prevent these clinics from using Title X money to perform abortions. The bill has more than 120 cosponsors in the House.

At the state level, last week Kentucky’s Senate passed SB9, a bill that requires women to submit to an ultrasound before they can be allowed to have an abortion, and that providers describe in detail what is seen while displaying the images so each woman can see them. The proposed bill allows for a woman to “avert her eyes” and makes some exceptions for medical emergencies, but makes receiving the ultrasound a requirement with no consideration as to whether it is deemed medically necessary by the provider or is acceptable to individual women (keeping in mind that early ultrasounds are typically transvaginal).

This piece of legislation, and others like it, seem to assume that the many women who seek abortions simply don’t know what they’re doing and should therefore be subjected to additional, non-medical requirements as the discretion of legislators rather than at the discretion of women and their providers. The bill’s sponsor makes this “women just don’t know what they’re doing” message explicitly clear, calling it “another step to assure the woman is fully informed about the implications of her decision” and labeling it an “informed consent” provision. Similar bills have been defeated in past years in the state, so it is not yet clear whether it will move beyond this stage.

Please let us know in the comments what bills affecting reproductive choice and justice have been introduced in your state.

Comments are closed.