The War on Reproductive Rights Will Get a Lot Uglier Next Year

Mandatory adoption seminars, discredited science about fetal pain, and many more highlights of anti-abortion bills coming to a statehouse near you.

Demonstrations broke out at Texas passed a harsh anti-abortion bill in 2013—a record-breaking year for abortion restrictions.Tamir Kalifa/AP

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After a record-shattering year in 2013, the pace of harsh anti-abortion bills introduced in 2014 slowed down. Elections cut short the legislative calendar in many states, and the general assemblies in Texas and North Dakota, two anti-abortion heavyweights, didn’t meet.

But brace yourself for 2015.

Next year, Republicans will control 11 more legislative chambers than they did in 2014. Lawmakers in Texas and North Dakota are back in session, and there are no major elections to take up lawmakers’ time or cause them worry about war-on-women attacks.

Women seeking abortions in Missouri could soon be required to watch a video that says that fetuses 22 weeks and older can feel pain—a scientifically inaccurate statement.

In at least nine states, abortion foes forces have already begun crafting restrictions for 2015. Below, Mother Jones has compiled a list of anti-abortion bills that have been prefiled in statehouses across the country. (Did we miss one? Shoot us an email.)

And this list only covers states where bills have actually been submitted. In other states, abortion foes are still scribbling away.

In Iowa, lawmakers are expected to consider a bill that bans physicians from giving instructions on abortion-inducing drugs by webcam or phone. (Iowa has more than a dozen clinics that provide “telemedicine” procedures in which patients use medication at home and receive advice on how to do so from supervising doctors via phone calls or video chats.) Members of the state’s Board of Medicine, all of whom were appointed by Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, are also trying to ban telemedicine abortions in Iowa; their efforts have been halted by a lawsuit. Arkansas Republicans want to ban telemedicine abortions and stop government money from going to an STI prevention program run by Planned Parenthood because of the group’s affiliation with abortion services.

Republicans in Wisconsin will push a 20-week abortion ban and an audit of Planned Parenthood to investigate whether the group is overbilling Medicaid. New Hampshire general assembly records show that New Hampshire Republicans have started drafting two abortion acts, one “relative to banning abortion after viability” and the other “prohibiting the use of public funds for abortion services.” And in Ohio, the state’s Right to Life president has promised that his group will help lawmakers draft a “rather large and robust” slate of anti-abortion laws next year.


  • Mandatory anti-abortion video: Already, women who want abortions in Missouri must listen to their providers read a medically inaccurate script describing the risks of the procedure. This bill instructs the state’s health department to turn that script into a video that women must watch on top of hearing her doctor read the information. The video would tell women that fetuses 22 weeks and older can feel pain and that there are “adverse psychological effects associated with abortion.” Mainstream medical organizations reject both of these assertions. The video will also tell women that “the life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.”
  • Protecting crisis pregnancy centers: Crisis pregnancy centers are controversial facilities set up to dissuade pregnant women from having abortions. Abortion rights advocates have criticized these centers for providing women with false information about the risks of abortion—such as a disproved link between abortion and breast cancer—and for setting up shop next door to abortion clinics in the hopes that women will confuse the two. This legislation would prevent towns or counties from passing laws that regulate crisis pregnancy centers. In the past, lawmakers have used legislation to rein in crisis pregnancy centers’ deceptive practices.
  • Government funding for abortion research: The bill would ban the use of public funds to finance research projects or economic incentives related to abortion services, human cloning, or stem cell research.
  • New rules for custody: Under this bill, if the father of a child tried to coerce the mother into having an abortion, a court may deny him custody.
  • Consent from the father: A measure that would force women seeking an abortion to get “written, notarized consent” from the man who impregnated her. See Mother Jones‘ full coverage here.

Under current Missouri law, a minor who wants an abortion must have the consent of one parent or guardian. Two lawmakers have filed bills for the 2015 legislative session that would add new hurdles to that parental consent law.

  • Notifying the other parent: This bill requires the parent or guardian who gives consent for an abortion to inform other parents or guardians in writing. There is an exception if the other parent or guardian is abusive—but only if he or she has been convicted of a crime.
  • Parental consent for a minor’s abortion: The teen and her parent must sign the consent form in front of a notary, and the consent form must warn the teen that an abortion “will result in the death of her unborn child.” Minors in Missouri who cannot or do not want to ask for a parent or guardian’s consent can petition a judge for permission through a confidential process called judicial bypass. This bill changes the law to require minors to petition a court in the county where she lives. That can be a daunting requirement for pregnant teens who live in small, rural communities, where judges sometimes refuse to hear judicial bypass petitions. The bill also allows judges to submit pregnant teens to psychiatric evaluations before denying or granting them permission for an abortion.

South Carolina

  • Fetal pain: Similar bills in the House and Senate would ban abortion 20 weeks after fertilization, based on the scientifically discredited notion that fetuses at that age can feel pain. There is an exception if the abortion is necessary to save the life or health of the mother; in those cases, the provider must use a method of abortion that “provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive.” Nine other states ban abortion at 20 weeks, and several of those laws have been blocked in federal court.


  • Mandatory ultrasound: A measure requiring doctors to perform an ultrasound before performing an abortion, except in medical emergencies.
  • Ballot initiative restrictions: Voters in November approved constitutional language that paves the way for new abortion restrictions. The speaker of the state House of Representatives is drafting three anti-abortion bills for 2015: One measure would set up a mandatory waiting period between a woman’s first visit to an abortion clinic and the time of the procedure. A second would force women to undergo counseling, known as informed consent, before an abortion. And a third would add new, unspecified inspection requirements for abortion facilities. See Mother Jones‘ full coverage here.


  • Banning Planned Parenthood from sex ed: The bill would block anyone who performs abortions “or an affiliate of an entity or individual that performs abortions” from providing public schools with human sexuality or family planning materials—regardless of whether or not those materials mention abortion.
  • Mandatory adoption seminars: Democratic Sen. Ed Lucio has promised to introduce a bill that would force women to undergo an hourlong adoption seminar before having an abortion.
  • Sex-selective abortion ban: This measure forbids a provider from performing an abortion if he or she knows that the woman wants an abortion because of the sex of the fetus. South Dakota lawmakers passed a similar bill in 2014, citing the myth that some Asian American women seek abortions to avoid having daughters. Arizona approved a race- and sex-selective ban in 2011. That law is tied up in a court challenge.


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