States pass tougher abortion restrictions


A number of states are tightening restrictions for women seeking abortions, while one state – Oregon – has enacted a law that could expand access. Here’s a breakdown of the latest state actions and how they could impact women and physicians.


Under a new Texas law, insurers are banned from covering abortions in most health plans. House Bill 214, signed into law by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in August, prohibits private, state-offered, and Affordable Care Act insurance plans from including abortion procedures as part of their general coverage. Women must buy additional policies to get the procedure covered. The only exemption is for abortions performed because of a medical emergency.

Another recently enacted Texas law, House Bill 13, requires doctors to report abortion complications to the state within 3 days, and to report personal information about patients such as their age, race, and marital status.


Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) has signed into law a measure that will tighten consent procedures for health providers who offer abortions. Senate Bill 5 requires that all discussions related to abortion risks, methods, and other medical factors be conducted only by the doctor who will perform the abortion. Another part of the bill requires that all tissue removed during an abortion be sent to a pathologist for examination within 72 hours. Current law allows facilities to send just a representative sample of the tissue removed.


A federal judge in Arkansas has temporarily blocked four abortion restrictions that were set to go into effect in August. One of the laws – House Bill 1032 – would bar physicians from performing dilation and evacuation procedures, while House Bill 1566 would require that fetal remains are not used for research. House Bill 1434 would ban abortions performed solely for sex selection and mandates that abortions not be performed until “reasonable time and effort” is spent by health providers to obtain the medical records of the pregnant woman. The fourth law, House Bill 2024, requires physicians who perform abortions on girls under age 17 to preserve fetal tissue in accordance with rules from the Office of the State Crime Laboratory.


Oregon meanwhile appears to be moving in the opposite direction when it comes to abortion regulation. A new law signed by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) in August requires that insurers cover abortion procedures and contraception without charging women a copayment. The Reproductive Health Equity Act also dedicates state funds to provide reproductive health care to noncitizens living in Oregon who are excluded from Medicaid.

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