News Story in The Hill

Posted on November 30, 2016

Abortion foes plot wave of legislation in the states

Opponents of abortion rights are planning to push a raft of new rules and restrictions after their allies scored big wins in state legislative chambers and gubernatorial races.

Legislators in some states have already filed measures to prohibit or limit abortions that occur after 20 weeks of pregnancy and to ban abortions conducted by dismembering a fetus.

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Some abortion rights supporters say they worry most about a new tactic used by some Republican-led states: Those states have begun crafting rules and regulations through agencies that oversee abortion providers and medical clinics, alongside legislation aimed at codifying those rules, in an effort to stop procedures even before a legislature has acted.

“A lot of the trends in the states will be to simultaneously introduce things in legislatures and implement rules in departments that have anything to do with abortions,” said Aimee Arrambide, the reproductive rights program manager at the left-leaning Public Leadership Institute.

Arrambide said she expected Republican-led states to implement onerous rules governing reporting and medical waste disposal through agencies as companion bills make their way through legislatures. Texas is one state where Republicans have used the dual track method: The state required fetal burials or cremations even before the legislature passed its own law.

There are fewer opportunities for Democratic-led states to advance abortion rights, and most activists who favor those rights say their focus is likely to be dominated by the fight over President-elect Donald Trump‘s nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

Though Trump himself has taken several different stands on abortion in recent years, he told CBS’s “60 Minutes” earlier this month that he would appoint anti-abortion rights judges who would then send the question of whether abortion should be legal back to the states.

That pledge, Arrambide said, should spur Democratic-led states to pass laws codifying the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, enforcing stricter penalties for violence or intimidation at clinics that provide abortions, and increasing access to contraception.

“We need to work on proactive policies, either to solidify these rights at the state level or to shape the narrative of the debate,” Arrambide said.