2012 was an unmitigated disaster for abortion rights

Since Roe v. Wade, only 2011 saw a greater number of abortion restrictions enacted

By Sarah Seltzer
January 5, 2013 7:00PM (UTC)
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Anti-abortion demonstrators take part in the "March for Life" in Washington January 23, 2012. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNet Think the so-called "War on Women" (really a war on everyone, since family planning, abortion, birth control and cancer screenings are good for everyone, regardless of gender) is over? Think again, sadly. The reality is that in the state capitols, the steady drive to make it nearly impossible for women to obtain abortions is continuing. Last month, at AlterNet, we profiled just a few of these state initiatives that had cropped up after the 2012 election and continued the unfortunate trend of using political power to legislate the uteri of citizens.

A new study from the Guttmacher Institute looked at all the laws and provisions relating to reproductive rights that went into effect in 2012:


Reproductive health and rights was once again the subject of extensive debate in state capitols in 2012. Over the course of the year, 42 states and the District of Columbia enacted 122 provisions related to reproductive health and rights. One-third of these new provisions, 43 in 19 states, sought to restrict access to abortion services. Although this is a sharp decrease from the record-breaking 92 abortion restrictions enacted in 2011, it is the second highest annual number of new abortion restrictions.

The highest year, of course, was 2011. What are some of the restrictions passed? Age limits, late-term abortion bans (20-week bans, for instance), clinic regulations that are near-impossible to meet, forbidding insurance coverage, and more.

Here are just a few examples, directly from Guttmacher, that I think show clearest how deep inside the wombs of Americans these legislatures are creepily willing to go:

  • "A new provision enacted in Mississippi requires a physician performing an abortion on a minor younger than 14 to provide a tissue sample to the state bureau of investigation. It also includes criminal penalties for anyone assisting a minor in seeking an abortion in violation of the state’s parental consent requirement."
  • "South Carolina amended the long-standing requirement that the state employees’ health plan may cover abortion only when necessary to save the woman’s life or in cases of rape or incest. The new provision permits taxpayer dollars to be used to pay for abortions only in cases of life endangerment; the cost in cases of rape or incest must now be paid entirely from employees’ premiums."
  • "Finally, the new ultrasound mandate in Virginia also requires that women who live less than 100 miles from the clinic undergo the ultrasound 24 hours in advance of the abortion ... Although Virginia law already required a 24-hour waiting period, this new provision compels women to make two trips to the clinic before receiving an abortion."

The shaming, nitpicking and intrusiveness of these kinds of laws is exemplified by the provisions above.

Sarah Seltzer

Sarah Marian Seltzer is a writer based in New York City. Find her at www.sarahmseltzer.com and tweeting too much at @sarahmseltzer.

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Abortion Alternet Roe V. Wade Video War On Women Women's Rights