State-Level Attacks on Planned Parenthood

The 2010 elections dramatically changed state legislatures and governors’ offices nationwide, causing a wave of efforts to restrict women’s health care. This year’s state bills targeting women's health are moving swiftly, even before jobs bills. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 56 percent of the state bills regarding reproductive health introduced this year seek to restrict abortion access, up from 38 percent last year.
While some of the state bills mimic recent federal proposals, others go much further. Here are the top trends targeting women’s health on the state level.

Attacks on Planned Parenthood Funding. In states around the country, anti-Planned Parenthood legislators are trying to eliminate funding for family planning or block Planned Parenthood’s participation in public health programs. Lawmakers have even gone so far as to target Planned Parenthood’s participation in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program.

These bills cynically place political ideology over basic health care, putting the lives of millions of women and families at risk. As we saw during the federal debate, these attacks are bad health policy, bad fiscal policy, and bad politics.

States to watch:
TexasKansasNorth CarolinaIndianaMinnesota

20-week abortion bans (ENACTED 2011: AL, KS, ID, IN, OK; ENACTED 2010: NE). Four states now ban abortion at 20 weeks gestation based on the premise of so-called fetal pain. If Governor Mitch Daniels signs HB1210, Indiana will become the fifth state to adopt a ban, and a dozen other states have introduced similar legislation.

A pregnant woman experiencing complications that threaten her health or life or the viability of her pregnancy should be able to consider all options without government interference or judgment from lawmakers. Some of these bills don’t even allow exceptions for the health of the mother.

These bills are a deliberate attempt by politicians to take the decision about abortion away from women and their doctors using baseless claims that are not supported by the highly respected American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as well as the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

States to watch:


Bans on abortion in the state health insurance exchange (ENACTED 2011: VA, UT, OK, ID; ENACTED 2010: AZ, TN, MO, MS, LA). Abortion coverage is currently a standard provision in most private health insurance plans. The new anti-choice measures would effectively prevent insurance companies from participating in state insurance exchanges if they continued to provide this coverage. These measures would force most insurers to drop abortion coverage to avoid being excluded from an important part of the market. And women needing abortions would have to pay the full cost out-of-pocket, even if their health was in danger or there were severe fetal anomalies.
In 2011, Utah and Oklahoma have enacted laws that would ban abortion coverage for all health insurance (private and public), not just those participating in the state health insurance exchange. 

States to watch:

IowaAlabamaFloridaRhode Island

Other examples of dangerous legislation. Other dangerous legislation recently introduced and/or enacted include:

  • mandatory ultrasounds (Texas; Florida)
  • waiting periods of up to 72 hours prior to an abortion and the requirement to attend biased “crisis” counseling (South Dakota)
  • a ban on abortion at the first sign of the heartbeat (Ohio)

Connect with your state and local Planned Parenthood organization for the latest in state-level attacks and how you can help.