Anti-abortion lawmakers across the country are on a mission–and they’ve got the bills to prove it.
The Guttmacher Institute has released a report showing that during the first three months of this year, legislators have introduced 326 provisions that would restrict abortion access.
The study notes that unlike recent years when the bulk of legislative activity concentrated on regulating abortion, lawmakers this year seem to be focusing on outlawing abortion outright (by saying personhood begins at the moment of conception or by banning abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy).
“It totally flies in the face” of Roe vs. Wade, Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute told Hardball’s Chris Matthews on Friday. She said the number of anti-abortion legislation has been increasing since 2010, when very conservative candidates, particularly in the Tea Party, were elected. And now, “it’s really taken off,” said Nash.
An NBC/WSJ poll earlier this year found the majority of Americans want abortion to be legal in all or most cases.
Virginia is the latest state to adopt one of the strictest abortion laws in the country. On Friday, the state board of health voted to approve new regulations that would mandate abortion clinics to comply with hospital-style building codes. Clinics would have to make renovations like widening hallways and installing new ventilation systems. Those in charge of such clinics say the standards would require costly construction and could put them out of business. Proponents say the regulations will protect women’s health. Critics believe it’s a back-door move to shut such clinics down.
In December, Virginia GOP Gov. Robert McDonnell signed off on health regulations imposing the building codes on abortion clinics. The state’s board of health had the final say on any changes. There will be a 30-day public comment period on the new regulations, and after that McDonnell is expected to officially sign them into law.
States like Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas and North Dakota have recently adopted restrictive abortion legislation. In Alabama, doctors must have hospital admitting privileges in the state. North Dakota legislators banned most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Kansas is set to enact a law defining life beginning “at fertilization.” And a law in Arkansas bans procedures after 12 weeks of pregnancy.
“These Republican-dominated state legislatures have realized they can’t make abortion illegal, so they’ll try to make it impossible,” said Matthews.
Related: states’ radical anti-abortion measures are aimed at forcing the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe.