Chart of the day: States passed second-most abortion restrictions ever in 2012

January 3, 2013

States passed 43 abortion restrictions in 2012. That's the second-highest number of abortion restrictions in one year since the Guttmacher Institute began counting in 1985.

The only year with more abortion restrictions was 2011, when states passed a record-breaking 92 laws that restricted abortion access. 

Guttmacher saw some trends in where these restrictions were passed and what they changed. Much of the action was geographically concentrated: 24 of the 43 laws passed were in just six states (Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin). Arizona led the pack with seven new laws; the others each enacted at least three.

As for the content of the laws, three states banned late-term abortions after 20 weeks, nearly doubling the number of states with such laws (the number grew from four to seven in the course of this year). Many abortion rights supporters think these bans are in violation of Roe v. Wade, which does not allow all-out abortion bans prior to fetal viability, usually thought to be around 24 to 25 weeks. Advocates challenged Arizona's 20-week ban and it is currently blocked by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Louisiana's new law, however, has not yet been challenged, allowing it to come into full effect.

Four states banned plans that sell on the public health insurance exchanges that will launch in 2014 as part of the Affordable Care Act. Three states passed new laws that limit the use of telemedicine to perform medication abortions, an issue that has come up in rural states that have fewer abortion providers.

There is one type of law that seems to be moving in the opposite direction: Barring abortion providers like Planned Parenthood from receiving state family planning dollars. Seven states passed laws like that in 2011, a number that dropped to two states in 2012.

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