By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
In anticipation of the abortion-funding provisions in the new health care reform law, dozens of states are either passing – or planning to pass – new restrictions on abortion.
USA Today is reporting that 2010 is shaping up to be a banner year for the passage of stricter abortion laws in the states, a trend many believe is a backlash from citizens who oppose both government intervention in states and forcing taxpayers to pay for abortions in the insurance “exchanges” that will be established by the new healthcare law.
“This year, particularly in the past couple of weeks, it’s really turned into a free-for-all on trying to restrict abortions,” said Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, a research group focused founded by a past president of Planned Parenthood.
The other side of the aisle agrees. Mary Spaulding Balch of the National Right to Life Committee says 2010 has been a “very successful” year thus far for the passage of abortion restrictions.
Both sides point to the recent passage of a Nebraska law that will ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The law is based on the fact that the unborn child can experience pain at 20 weeks, rather than previous laws that banned abortions after the point of viability, which the medical community says is 22 weeks. Legal challenges are expected.
In addition, at least 22 states are working on bills to increase counseling or waiting periods and 18 states have bills to expand the use of ultrasound.
Last week, Tennessee became the first state to pass a bill that would ban abortion coverage in any plan sold through the state-run exchanges which will be set up by ObamaCare.
“We must take every action possible to protect Tennessee from being a part of a plan that allows for funding abortions,” said state Senator Diane Black (R-Gallatin) who sponsored the bill. “We have worked for years to ensure that taxpayer money is not used for abortion services in Tennessee, and we must fight back against this overreach of federal power.”
Black says that the law applies even if premiums were paid with private funds because public funds would help run the exchanges.
Mississippi, Missouri, Louisiana and Oklahoma are considering similar bills.
“I think you’ll see a lot more next year,” said Ms. Balch.
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