The folks at Guttmacher Institute track anti-abortion legislation in the states each year, and today they’ve released the data from 2012. The raw number showing actual enacted, new abortion restrictions is predictably down from last year’s record high of 92. During an election year when all manner of legislative business slows down – when some legislatures were holding shortened sessions and some were not meeting at all – no one was expecting 2012 to look quite like 2011.
The loud, public opposition that proliferated in 2012 also seems to have played at least a minor role in keeping last year’s number if not low, then not as high as it could have been. Elizabeth Nash, the state issues director at Guttmacher, says the outcry over Virginia’s forced ultrasound law last year “really had an impact in Idaho, Alabama, and Pennsylvania,” where similar bills were being considered but not enacted last year. “I’m pretty certain that we would have seen ultrasound mandates in all three states had it not been for the outcry about Virginia,” she said.
But 2012 was still a banner year for new anti-abortion laws. It saw the second-highest number of new anti-abortion laws enacted in the decades following Roe v. Wade. As Guttmacher notes in its analysis of the new data, more than half of the 43 new anti-abortion laws of 2012 were enacted in just six states.