Abortion Bans and Restrictions Mount in States Across the Country Just 2 Months Into 2022
By Planned Parenthood Action Fund | March 28, 2022, 6:29 p.m.
Emboldened by a Supreme Court decision that could end the constitutional right to abortion this spring, politicians opposed to abortion rights have wasted no time advancing laws to harshly restrict abortion or ban it entirely.
In 41 states, politicians filed more than 300 anti-abortion bills in January and February — including an Oklahoma bill that would ban abortion after 30 days of pregnancy and measures that would grant personhood to a fetus.
From Jan. 1 to Feb. 28, compared with the same period in 2021:
- There was a significant uptick in the number of bills that ban abortion at six weeks of pregnancy — before many people know they are pregnant. Beyond six-week bans, this year compared to last year, more abortion bans of all kinds have been introduced.
- More states moved to limit access to or completely ban medication abortion, with several advancing legislation on the debunked and harmful idea of “abortion reversal.”
- Double the number of states have introduced trigger bans. These laws will ban abortion in those states if Roe v. Wade is overturned or dismantled.
- More restrictions limiting minors’ access to sexual and reproductive health care and education have been introduced, particularly through bills requiring parental consent to access abortion and gender-affirming care for LGBTQ+ youth.
More than a third of the more than 300 anti-abortion rights bills moving through state legislatures this year include abortion bans, such as bans after 30 days of pregnancy, complete bans, trigger bans, and bans based on the supposed reason behind a patient’s decision. Many states aren’t waiting for a Supreme Court decision, which is expected this summer, to pass bans with immediate effective dates.
Trends you need to know as opponents of abortion rights prepare for a post-Roe future:
Abortion Bans After 15 Weeks
Four states have introduced 15-week abortion bans modeled after the Mississippi law that the Supreme Court is now deciding. Should the court uphold the law and overturn or dismantle Roe v. Wade, 26 states would likely ban abortion. The Florida and Arizona legislature have both passed bans that are awaiting the respective governors’ signature or veto. Despite 11th hour attempts earlier this month, West Virginia lawmakers failed to pass its ban before the legislative session ended. A ban continues to also advance in Kentucky. States to watch: Florida, Arizona, and Kentucky.
Texas-Style Copycat Abortion Bans
Twelve states have introduced abortion bans modeled after Texas’s abortion ban, which includes a “sue they neighbor” provision that allows private citizens to act as bounty hunters and sue people who help patients access abortion. This month Idaho became the first state to enact a copycat ban. Oklahoma has two versions of copycat bills moving, each of which have already passed a full legislative chamber. States to watch: Idaho, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Missouri.
Medication Abortion Restrictions
With the FDA lifting the in-person dispensing requirement for one of the drugs in the two-step medication abortion regimen, and as telehealth and medication abortion become more popular, many states are moving to restrict access to medication abortion on all fronts.
So far this session, more than 40 attacks on medication abortion have been introduced in 24 states. These attacks include onerous and burdensome reporting requirements for providers, dispensers, and manufacturers; bans on telehealth for medication abortion; unnecessary waiting periods; and mandatory ultrasounds. Many states are also advancing informed consent measures that require providers and health centers to share information about “abortion reversal,” a dangerous, unethical, and scientifically unproven myth that medication abortions can be reversed. States to watch: Kentucky, Ohio, Wyoming, Tennessee, South Carolina, and South Dakota (officially signed into law in this month).
Trigger bans have been introduced in seven states so far this legislative session. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortion would be banned in these states immediately or by quick state action. Twelve states already have trigger bans on the books. States to watch: Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wyoming (officially signed into law this month).
Bills Targeting Minors
A variety of measures limiting minors’ access to abortion, sex education, and gender-affirming care have been introduced.
So far this session, we have seen more than 20 bills introduced that aim to limit access to factual education in schools, from discussions about race to health care to gender identity. These bills are often portrayed as efforts to give parents more control over the education of their children, when in reality, they strip youth of their right to holistic, factually-accurate education.
More than five bills have been introduced explicitly stigmatizing LGBTQ+ content in schools by prohibiting the teaching of discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community or banning discussions about LGBTQ+ “lifestyles” from sex education courses specifically. We have also seen a host of bills aiming to limit the health care that minors can receive, with more than 10 bills focused on limiting minors’ access to abortion and nearly 30 bills prohibiting minors from receiving gender-affirming health care. States and policies to watch: South Carolina’s “Parental Bill of Rights,” which states that parents have “the sole right to direct education and care of his child,” and Alabama, which is poised to pass a ban on gender-affirming care for minors. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also recently issued a directive allowing the state to investigate gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth as child abuse. It has now been blocked in court.
The Good News: Policies to Protect and Expand Abortion Access
Reproductive health champions in states across the country have also stepped up this session, introducing more than 100 proactive abortion rights measures so far. These include efforts to add abortion protections to state law, repeal unnecessary abortion restrictions like ultrasound requirements and 24-hour waiting periods, and expand the number of qualified abortion providers — making procedures more readily available to those in need.
We’ve also seen some wins on the proactive front, including:
- The enactment of the Freedom of Reproductive Choice in New Jersey, a historic law included protections for abortion, birth control, and pregnancy care.
- The Affirm Washington Abortion Act in Washington state was recently signed by the governor and would expand the number of eligible medical professionals who can provide abortion and make the language in the state abortion law gender-neutral.
- Vermont’s Reproductive Liberty Amendment, which heads to the ballot in November, and could make Vermont the first state to explicitly enshrine reproductive rights in the state constitution.
- A $15 million allotment for a Reproductive Health Equity Fund in the Oregon budget this year.
- California’s governor recently signed the Abortion Access Act, which cuts costs for abortion care by prohibiting health insurers from charging a copay, deductable or other costs for abortion or abortion services.
- The Colorado Legislature recently passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which would codify the protections established by Roe v. Wade into Colorado state law. It will soon be signed by the governor.
Additional States to Watch
- Connecticut and Delaware, where legislation to expand the number of providers authorized to provide abortion has been introduced;
- Hawaii, where lawmakers are working to strengthen protections for abortion in state law; and
- Maryland, where legislators are advancing a constitutional amendment that would enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution.
Get Involved In Your State
Local Planned Parenthood advocacy and political organizations are fighting to defend reproductive rights in states across the country.