With the legislative year well underway, some interesting trends are beginning to emerge in a number of states (click here for a longer summary of state legislative developments in the first quarter).
By the end of March 2009, 704 measures had been introduced in the 49 legislatures that have convened so far this year, and 11 new laws had been enacted in five states. One allows the provision of STI treatment for a patient’s partner (Utah), while two increase access to emergency contraception (Utah and Virginia). The remaining eight laws are all related to abortion. These eight laws:
ban “partial-birth” abortion (Arkansas);
restrict postviability abortions (Utah);
require abortion clinics to post signs about coercion (Kansas and Ohio) or to inform women about the possibility that a fetus can feel pain (Utah);
require providers to give women a list of organizations that would provide a free ultrasound and offer them the opportunity to view the image if an ultrasound is performed in preparation for an abortion (Kansas);
authorize funding for crisis pregnancy centers from the sale of “Choose Life” license plates (Virginia); and
create a fund to cover the state’s abortion litigation costs (Utah).
In addition, legislators in six states (Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota and South Carolina) have introduced measures similar to one that was soundly defeated by voters in Colorado last year that would have declared a fetus a person from the moment of conception. This strategy is being pursued by an emerging far-right wing of the anti-abortion movement, in explicit rejection of what is perceived as a willingness on the part of some mainstream organizations to push for restrictions that would reduce abortion rather than ban it entirely.
Also, thirty-six bills have been introduced so far this year in 20 states that would require medical accuracy in school sex education. Twelve states currently require that the information provided in sex education classes be medically accurate. In 10 of these states (California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah and Washington), the mandate applies to all sex education in the state. In two states (Alabama and North Carolina), the requirement applies only to the information provided about contraception.
Finally, the CDC recommended in 2006 that health care providers treating patients for chlamydia and gonorrhea also provide treatment for the patient’s partner, even if he or she has not been seen by the provider. Between 2006 and 2008, six states (Arizona, California, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota and New York) have adopted laws, and three states (New Mexico, North Dakota and Tennessee) have promulgated regulations to allow partner treatment. This year, similar measures have been introduced in eight states (Illinois, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, North Dakota, Utah and Vermont). Thus far, the Utah measure is the only one that has been enacted.
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