Health & Spirit

South Carolina joins growing list of states limiting access to abortion

David Montero, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Women's News

Carole Joffe, a professor at the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco, notes that conservatives who oppose abortion rights have been steadily passing restrictive state laws and making abortions almost unattainable in some states.

Some states may only have one abortion provider, making it difficult and expensive for many low-income women to get abortions. The lack of access due to tough state restrictions, Joffe says, has effectively made abortion not an option for some women.

"Trump's election may change this and the women's marches may change this, but historically, Democrats have been much more mobilized around presidential elections and congressional races," she said. "Republicans have done a much better job in bringing people though the pipeline of local races -- school board, then state assembly and state senate. Democrats haven't paid as much attention at this level."

When Barack Obama was elected in 2008 and Democrats controlled both houses in Congress, Republicans got to work. In the 2010 midterm election, the GOP cashed in at the congressional and state legislative levels and among governorships.

State legislatures swung to the GOP as well -- with 25 states entirely controlled by Republicans. There are only five states where Democrats are in control of both the governor's seat and the legislature. Republicans also hold 33 governor's seats.

The Guttmacher Institute, which advocates for reproductive rights including abortion, reported that since Republicans began dominating at the state level after Obama's election, hundreds of state measures have been passed that have choked off access to abortions.

Iowa and Kentucky joined about 16 other states that restrict abortions after 20 weeks -- though federal courts have said they violate Roe vs. Wade. Tennessee passed a law requiring that two doctors confirm a fetus is not viable before an abortion can be provided at 20 weeks or later, except in a medical emergency.

Arkansas and Texas joined Mississippi and West Virginia in passing bans on a procedure used in the second trimester referred to as dilation and evacuation -- though the courts have stepped in to block the bans. Last week, however, Arkansas appealed that federal court order.

The Guttmacher Institute reported this year that the abortion rate in the United States declined 14 percent between 2011 and 2014 -- a record low as the number of procedures fell below 1 million annually.

McMaster's executive order was praised by National Right to Life, an anti-abortion nonprofit, and the Susan B. Anthony List, which has fought to defund Planned Parenthood.

Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, said that until Roe vs. Wade can be overturned -- something she is optimistic about if Trump gets to appoint another U.S. Supreme Court justice -- the state strategy has been effective, and she applauded McMaster's executive order.

"There is no reason tax dollars should be used to pay for abortions," Tobias said. "And organizations that provide abortions or have them offered on site shouldn't receive those public funds either."

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