Arkansas was the first state to pass abortion restrictions (more than 100 of them, in fact) in 2015. As we close out the year, the state remains a leading figure in anti-abortion legislation in the United States. Arkansas was one of two states — the second being Tennessee — to pass a law forcing women to make two in-person trips to an abortion clinic prior to their procedure, instead of just one. This first trip mandates anti-abortion counseling. In addition to many other pieces of anti-abortion legislation, Arkansas also passed a bill suggesting that women can reverse an abortion performed with medication, though this claim is not supported by scientific evidence.
Arkansas may lead the pack, but 2015 was — broadly speaking — a very bad year for reproductive rights in the United States. Lawmakers across the country introduced some 400 abortion restrictions this year. Popular legislation in states like Florida, Oklahoma, and North Carolina established mandatory waiting periods between a woman’s first visit to an abortion clinic and her procedure, while other laws criminalized a method of termination that is used on women who are more than twelve weeks pregnant. Some states reduced the window of time in which women can use medication to end pregnancies.
And as we approach 2016, lawmakers are preparing to compound those restrictions in the wake of the widely debunked sting videos that purport to show Planned Parenthood dealing in the illegal sale of fetal tissue. Legislators have moved to introduce bills that would restrict fetal tissue research, and some states pulled federal family planning and Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood. Elizabeth Nash, who has researched reproductive health laws for the Guttmacher thinktank, told The Guardian that “[t]he states didn’t fully absorb the shock of those videos in 2015 […] The fallout is far from over.”
Read the full story at The Guardian.