And the impact is not insignificant — and could eventually lead all the way to the Supreme Court.
Details, from USA TODAY:
Legislatures in more than 30 states are weighing — and in some cases passing — many fast-moving bills to restrict abortion rights in a blitz that could prompt the Supreme Court to revisit the issue.
On Tuesday, Idaho‘s Legislature approved a ban on most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, a Republican, last month signed a bill mandating a three-day waiting period for abortions and requiring women seeking abortions to get counseling at a pregnancy help center. ArizonaRepublican Gov. Jan Brewer last month signed a bill making it a felony to perform or provide money for abortions sought because of the fetus’s race or sex.
Abortion bills “are moving in states where they haven’t before,” says Mary Spaulding Balch, state legislation director for the National Right to Life Committee, which opposes abortion. Another surprise is “the speed at which these bills are going through,” she says.
“What’s different this year is that, as a result of the election, there are a lot more anti-abortion” state legislators, says Donna Crane, policy director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, which supports abortion rights. Republican gains in the 2010 election gave them control of both chambers in 26 legislatures; Democrats control 15.
NARAL Pro-Choice America is monitoring 362 abortion bills in this legislative session; in 2010, 174 bills were tracked.
Some bills would block public or private insurance coverage for abortions, others would ban most abortions 20 weeks after conception, and others would require pregnant women to have ultrasounds before having abortions.
Some bills are moving quickly.
This week, a Florida Senate committee passed a bill that would require ultrasounds before abortions. Last week, an Ohio House committee approved a bill that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The Kansas Legislature last week passed a bill banning most abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy.
Crane and Balch disagree on the message behind the spate of abortion legislation.
“We are absolutely certain that this is not what Americans voted for in November 2010,” Crane says. In addition to a new crop of conservative legislators, she says, 29 governors are considered “anti-choice” by her organization.
Balch attributes the momentum to new legislators of both parties who share her organization’s goal of providing “protection for the unborn child.”
Check out more, including an interactive map, at the link.