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July 15, 2011

Map: Record Number of State Abortion Laws in 2011

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States have enacted a record number of state laws restricting abortion in 2011. The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research organization, reports that in the first six months of this year, there have been 80 state laws that restrict abortion.
The number of laws passed is more than double the number of laws in any previous year (the previous record was 34 restrictions in 2005). Many of these laws included multiple restrictions on abortion, resulting in over 100 new policies designed to lower abortion in the states.
Overall, 19 states have enacted some restriction on abortion. The most common restriction was to limit abortion coverage in health plans that will be offered in the health exchanges (eight states). These exchanges are part of President Obama’s health insurance reform passed last year. Other popular changes included bans on the use of telemedicine, changing abortion reporting rules, and requiring a fetal ultrasound before performing an abortion.

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Geographically, most of the restrictions occurred in the band of states between the rockies and the Mississippi River. Indiana, Kansas, North Dakota, Utah, and Nebraska enacted major provisions to restrict abortion. Few restrictions were enacted on the Pacific coast or New England.
The reason for the geographic pattern is the parties that control the legislatures. After the 2010 election, Republicans made gains in most states; the Democratic Party lost legislatures and governorships in many states. Abortion restrictions were much more likely to pass in states where Republicans controlled both the legislature and the governorship. Republican states were 10 times as likely to enact a law restricting abortion than a Democratic state. GOP states were four times as likely to do so than states with divided government.

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