The laws include ultrasound mandates, strict physical requirements for abortion clinics, bans on abortions performed during early stages of pregnancy and new restrictions on the abortion-inducing medication RU-486. An increasing number of the laws directly target abortion clinics and doctors, making it difficult or even impossible for them to continue serving the needs of women. And while many of the new restrictions have been temporarily blocked by federal judges as legal challenges play out, Republican-controlled state legislatures continue to find new ways to block access to abortion services.
"They aren't scraping the bottom of the barrel yet," said Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research and advocacy organization. "There are numerous restrictions that can still be enacted in states, despite the fact that so many have become law over the past three years. And they're becoming more burdensome than we've seen before, eroding women's rights by targeting abortion providers and shutting down clinics."
Below is a list of the nine worst states for reproductive rights in 2013.
After State Sen. Wendy Davis' (D) "filibuster heard 'round the world," Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) in July signed into law a package of abortion restrictions that has already shut down clinics across the state. The new law bans abortions 20 weeks after fertilization and requires all clinics to become ambulatory surgical centers -- in effect, mini hospitals -- even if they do not provide surgical abortions. The law also mandates that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic and requires them to administer the abortion-inducing medication RU-486 in person, rather than allow women to take it at home.
North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) signed a trio of abortion restrictions into law in March that makes the state one of the most difficult places to access abortion care in the country. One of the laws bans abortion as soon as the fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The other two require abortion physicians to have admitting privileges at local hospitals and ban abortions that are based on the gender of the fetus.
The Ohio state legislature found a new way to shut down abortion clinics this year: it passed a law requiring clinics to have a patient transfer agreement with a local hospital in case of an emergency. But public hospitals are banned from entering into those agreements in Ohio, making it nearly impossible for many clinics to comply. The restrictions are already closing down abortion clinics in the state.
Michigan lawmakers used a rare and archaic procedural move to pass a law this month banning all insurance plans in the state from covering abortion unless the woman's life is in danger. The law, nicknamed the "rape insurance" bill by opponents, will force women and employers to purchase a separate abortion rider if they would like the procedure covered, even in cases of rape and incest.
Arkansas lawmakers voted this year to override Gov. Mike Beebe's (D) veto on a bill banning abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy. The law directly challenges the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which protects a woman's right to have an abortion until the fetus is viable (generally considered to be around 22 weeks). A federal judge has temporarily blocked it from going into effect while legal challenges are pending.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed a bill this year requiring Indiana abortion clinics that only dispense the abortion-inducing medication RU-486 to meet the same physical standards as surgical facilities. It also forces women to undergo ultrasounds before receiving the drug. The law was intended to target a Planned Parenthood clinic in Lafayette, Ind. But the clinic will remain open, for now, because a U.S. District Judge temporarily blocked the law in November.
Gov. Scott Walker (R) quietly signed a Republican-backed bill in July that mandates ultrasounds before abortions and requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. A federal judge temporarily blocked the admitting privileges requirement after opponents showed it would effectively shut down two of the four abortion clinics in the state.