Coming to Terms with Abortion Addiction

Mandy Van Deven

Mandy Van Deven interviews Irene Vilar about her book, Impossible Motherhood, and her self-described history as an "abortion addict."

I am one of those pro-choice people who say things that are so
insensitive, so anti-natalist that I frequently make other pro-choicers cringe.
Irene Vilar’s confession of having had fifteen abortions in as many years made
me cringe. I cringed continuously as I made my way through her painfully honest
story not because I stand in misconstrued judgment of her actions, but because
the writing breathes such raw emotion that it becomes difficult to read it with
the same air of necessary detachment with which Vilar has lived a great deal of
her life.

In many ways, Vilar’s propensity for physical and emotional disconnection—a
trait with both saved and damned her—makes the conditions that allowed for
repeated impregnation and termination somehow more disturbing than if she had
penned every last brutal detail. The words are cutting yet so beautifully
lyrical that I found myself enrapt in the writing to the point of forgetting
about the next impending pregnancy until it arose again.

The past is written on our bodies, at times literally, and Vilar’s
tragically happy story is plainly an amalgamation involving an overwhelming
amount of self-destruction and conquest. Its melodic cadence lulls you to a
state of empathy and understanding of the fluid dynamism of identity, the power
of shame, and the absence of truth. An addiction can be all encompassing, and
this memoir is as powerful as any drug. We are all fortunate to taste the “bitter-sweetness”
of this terribly wonderful and devastating work, which to me feels like an odd
sort of victory.

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An
increasing number of women have recently begun speaking out about the need to
discuss the complexity of abortion. What influenced you to write this book now?

 

My goal in going public with my testimony was
threefold: One was to understand and explain the complexities of my self-destructive
actions. Next was to find the connecting vessels between my personal pathology—the
terrifying ways I related with my reproductive body—and my historical relationship
to my parents, culture, and country. The third was to use my extreme difficulty
identifying my addiction to the drama of pregnancy and abortion to open up the
field of psychohistory inquiry for women and cultural studies, especially for
exploring the possible resistance some women have to their fecundity being controlled
or robbed from them. Perhaps some of the repeat abortions of women supposedly
on birth control are, in part, a rebellion and a resistance. It is not a
rational behavior, but I think many women who unconsciously "forget"
to take their pill might see in my story—no matter how extreme—the ways the
fantasy of getting pregnant, the fantasy of potential motherhood, and the
reassurance that one is fertile can be at war with the reality of having a
baby.

In the
prologue you address the tricky issue of the morality of having multiple
abortions, which serves the book well since people’s snap judgments could
easily interfere with their ability to hear your story.

I wanted to establish right from the start the complexities of my
destructive actions by framing the story as one women’s attempt to grasp the
meaning of her life by asking how conscious I had been of what I was doing to
earn a feeling of worth, and by what lies I would tell myself. I wanted to
show how elusive this examination can be as a result of the fluidity of the
selves one sheds along the way and the questionable morality of one’s actions.
How will my account withstand the merciless judgment that comes with reality?
The prologue was my attempt at asking myself what my social responsibility was in
writing this story about a personal experience anchored in what is one of the
most controversial and inflammatory subjects in American society and politics.

What were
your fears in writing this memoir?

My main concern was about the inevitable
polarization the book was fated to encounter: the rigid resistance from both
abortion foes and pro-choicers to encounter the testimony on “fair”,
intellectual grounds. I knew people would politicize my book. Many see it as a
pro-choice extreme, but in fact, it has little to do with the pro-choice
movement. When one is looking for a strategy of survival one uses what makes
sense, with whatever limited tools one has.

Abortion happened to be the effect of my neurotic
behavior, but it is not the fact of it. Abortion happened to be the target of
my addiction—or to be more precise, the target of my pathological adolescent
rebellious strategy. It is very tragic that my illness involved a fetus, and
this presses my condition against the polarized discussion on abortion in this
country. But I wrote this book with a specific reader in mind. I am certain
that eventually, once it frees itself from the tabloids, the testimony will
find its right, fruitful place as an important document in cultural and postcolonial
studies.

How did
your cultural background shape your experience?

I believe my Puerto Rican experience informed the
shape of my neurotic strategy, but I’m solely responsible for my actions. As a
Puerto Rican woman brought up by a depressed mother who had been sterilized
despite herself as part of an American-led experiment, who was betrayed by her
husband, who had little opportunity to access education, and who eventually
committed suicide, I had one desire: to escape to America and be free to do
exactly what I wanted.

As a fifteen-year old freshman in college, this
meant I did not have to submit to any rule or law when it came to my
sexuality. I wanted control over my body and the way I chose to have
control could not have been more terrible. I fell in love with my literature
professor, a philosopher and self-proclaimed feminist who wanted no children
and thought women should be sterile if they wanted a career and a true life of
freedom. I "unconsciously" and systematically “forgot” to take my
birth control pills, and I know today that with each pregnancy I defied him as
much as I defied the politics of sterilization that took my mother away from
me.

A central
character in this book is your ex-husband, whom you never address by name. Why
did you choose to keep him in a cloak of anonymity?

It was a way to protect and heighten my
subjectivity, which was something crucial in pursuing greater self-accountability
for my actions. It was also necessary to generate and maintain control over my
story, which historically I had cloaked under his.

You said
abortion became an addiction for you. How did it function as such?

Getting pregnant brought a strange feeling: I could
bring it on with nobody’s permission, and I could interrupt it with nobody’s
permission. Of course, this did not mean I wanted
to do it again and again—a drug addict also wants to stop every time. I was a
creature in suspended animation addicted to the high of agency in pregnancy and
the shame of the down side. My blinding desire for control was at the core of
my neurosis. The experiences I had can explain my “addiction” in part, but of
course someone else with similar life experiences may have reacted differently.
They may have become depressed, or manic, or anorexic, or masochistic, or
they may simply have been lucky and come out unscathed. For my part, I think
several elements contributed to my choice of behavior, if we can call this a
choice.

You
mention the chiding you received from the abortion practitioners who performed
your repeat terminations. Was it important to you to express their disapproval?

Absolutely! Abortion doctors risk their lives
assisting women in exercising their right to choose. Repeat abortions among
women who supposedly are on birth control baffles them as much as it baffles
many of us. It was important for me to give their account of their predicament
in my quest for self-accountability.

There are
many times throughout the book when you deny yourself sustenance in exchange
for companionship, making hunger a recurring theme. What were you hungry for
that was more important than nourishment?

I think I had a mild form of anorexia. Deprivation
was another way of keeping control. The anorexic defies the world by refusing
to eat; nobody can make them. Nobody could make me submit to contraception or
to chastity or to motherhood and its responsibility. Of course, this is not
rational; it’s unconscious. I relished in an in-between state, a rare condition
to be sure. I didn’t surrender to pain. I didn’t want to be human because it was
too dangerous. I fought my humanity where ever I could.

The
pro-choice movement is framed as one that supports a woman having the freedom
to choose whether or not to bring a child into the world. Ironically, your
story is about having multiple abortions as a result of your lack of freedom in
this regard. How did this contradiction play out in your experience?

Abortion happens to be the target of my addiction
or, to be more precise, the target of my adolescent rebellious strategy. It is
truly unfortunate that my “illness" involves a fetus—but how could it be
otherwise since my psychic playing field was a struggle between my wanting to
be an intellectual free of constraints and the thrill of feeling pregnant as
the ultimate signature of womanhood? For one minute I could have my cake and
eat it too. On some level this is a universal fantasy. Many women feel that way,
but don’t carry out this fantasy to the extreme that I have. My book could, to
some extent, be a caricature of the plight of the modern woman: how to be two
things at once.

I think the context in which I grew up makes this
situation more blatant. There is an asymptotic relationship between my
addiction to abortion and the controversial abortion debate. My story is
about abortion and it is not about abortion. It is about abortion only in that
I owe my life to the legalization of abortion and that my pathology involved a
drama of pregnancy and abortion. It is not about abortion in the sense that
what I really show is that my addiction is the reverse of the "freedom to
choose." When I was finally in a position to choose, I had my
first baby.

 

Analysis Politics

The 2016 Republican Platform Is Riddled With Conservative Abortion Myths

Ally Boguhn

Anti-choice activists and leaders have embraced the Republican platform, which relies on a series of falsehoods about reproductive health care.

Republicans voted to ratify their 2016 platform this week, codifying what many deem one of the most extreme platforms ever accepted by the party.

“Platforms are traditionally written by and for the party faithful and largely ignored by everyone else,” wrote the New York Times‘ editorial board Monday. “But this year, the Republicans are putting out an agenda that demands notice.”

“It is as though, rather than trying to reconcile Mr. Trump’s heretical views with conservative orthodoxy, the writers of the platform simply opted to go with the most extreme version of every position,” it continued. “Tailored to Mr. Trump’s impulsive bluster, this document lays bare just how much the G.O.P. is driven by a regressive, extremist inner core.”

Tucked away in the 66-page document accepted by Republicans as their official guide to “the Party’s principles and policies” are countless resolutions that seem to back up the Times‘ assertion that the platform is “the most extreme” ever put forth by the party, including: rolling back marriage equalitydeclaring pornography a “public health crisis”; and codifying the Hyde Amendment to permanently block federal funding for abortion.

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Anti-choice activists and leaders have embraced the platform, which the Susan B. Anthony List deemed the “Most Pro-life Platform Ever” in a press release upon the GOP’s Monday vote at the convention. “The Republican platform has always been strong when it comes to protecting unborn children, their mothers, and the conscience rights of pro-life Americans,” said the organization’s president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, in a statement. “The platform ratified today takes that stand from good to great.”  

Operation Rescue, an organization known for its radical tactics and links to violence, similarly declared the platform a “victory,” noting its inclusion of so-called personhood language, which could ban abortion and many forms of contraception. “We are celebrating today on the streets of Cleveland. We got everything we have asked for in the party platform,” said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, in a statement posted to the group’s website.

But what stands out most in the Republicans’ document is the series of falsehoods and myths relied upon to push their conservative agenda. Here are just a few of the most egregious pieces of misinformation about abortion to be found within the pages of the 2016 platform:

Myth #1: Planned Parenthood Profits From Fetal Tissue Donations

Featured in multiple sections of the Republican platform is the tired and repeatedly debunked claim that Planned Parenthood profits from fetal tissue donations. In the subsection on “protecting human life,” the platform says:

We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare. We urge all states and Congress to make it a crime to acquire, transfer, or sell fetal tissues from elective abortions for research, and we call on Congress to enact a ban on any sale of fetal body parts. In the meantime, we call on Congress to ban the practice of misleading women on so-called fetal harvesting consent forms, a fact revealed by a 2015 investigation. We will not fund or subsidize healthcare that includes abortion coverage.

Later in the document, under a section titled “Preserving Medicare and Medicaid,” the platform again asserts that abortion providers are selling “the body parts of aborted children”—presumably again referring to the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood:

We respect the states’ authority and flexibility to exclude abortion providers from federal programs such as Medicaid and other healthcare and family planning programs so long as they continue to perform or refer for elective abortions or sell the body parts of aborted children.

The platform appears to reference the widely discredited videos produced by anti-choice organization Center for Medical Progress (CMP) as part of its smear campaign against Planned Parenthood. The videos were deceptively edited, as Rewire has extensively reported. CMP’s leader David Daleiden is currently under federal indictment for tampering with government documents in connection with obtaining the footage. Republicans have nonetheless steadfastly clung to the group’s claims in an effort to block access to reproductive health care.

Since CMP began releasing its videos last year, 13 state and three congressional inquiries into allegations based on the videos have turned up no evidence of wrongdoing on behalf of Planned Parenthood.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund—which has endorsed Hillary Clinton—called the Republicans’ inclusion of CMP’s allegation in their platform “despicable” in a statement to the Huffington Post. “This isn’t just an attack on Planned Parenthood health centers,” said Laguens. “It’s an attack on the millions of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood each year for basic health care. It’s an attack on the brave doctors and nurses who have been facing down violent rhetoric and threats just to provide people with cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams.”

Myth #2: The Supreme Court Struck Down “Commonsense” Laws About “Basic Health and Safety” in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

In the section focusing on the party’s opposition to abortion, the GOP’s platform also reaffirms their commitment to targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws. According to the platform:

We salute the many states that now protect women and girls through laws requiring informed consent, parental consent, waiting periods, and clinic regulation. We condemn the Supreme Court’s activist decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt striking down commonsense Texas laws providing for basic health and safety standards in abortion clinics.

The idea that TRAP laws, such as those struck down by the recent Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health, are solely for protecting women and keeping them safe is just as common among conservatives as it is false. However, as Rewire explained when Paul Ryan agreed with a nearly identical claim last week about Texas’ clinic regulations, “the provisions of the law in question were not about keeping anybody safe”:

As Justice Stephen Breyer noted in the opinion declaring them unconstitutional, “When directly asked at oral argument whether Texas knew of a single instance in which the new requirement would have helped even one woman obtain better treatment, Texas admitted that there was no evidence in the record of such a case.”

All the provisions actually did, according to Breyer on behalf of the Court majority, was put “a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion,” and “constitute an undue burden on abortion access.”

Myth #3: 20-Week Abortion Bans Are Justified By “Current Medical Research” Suggesting That Is When a Fetus Can Feel Pain

The platform went on to point to Republicans’ Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a piece of anti-choice legislation already passed in several states that, if approved in Congress, would create a federal ban on abortion after 20 weeks based on junk science claiming fetuses can feel pain at that point in pregnancy:

Over a dozen states have passed Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Acts prohibiting abortion after twenty weeks, the point at which current medical research shows that unborn babies can feel excruciating pain during abortions, and we call on Congress to enact the federal version.

Major medical groups and experts, however, agree that a fetus has not developed to the point where it can feel pain until the third trimester. According to a 2013 letter from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “A rigorous 2005 scientific review of evidence published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concluded that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester,” which begins around the 28th week of pregnancy. A 2010 review of the scientific evidence on the issue conducted by the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists similarly found “that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior” to 24 weeks’ gestation.

Doctors who testify otherwise often have a history of anti-choice activism. For example, a letter read aloud during a debate over West Virginia’s ultimately failed 20-week abortion ban was drafted by Dr. Byron Calhoun, who was caught lying about the number of abortion-related complications he saw in Charleston.

Myth #4: Abortion “Endangers the Health and Well-being of Women”

In an apparent effort to criticize the Affordable Care Act for promoting “the notion of abortion as healthcare,” the platform baselessly claimed that abortion “endangers the health and well-being” of those who receive care:

Through Obamacare, the current Administration has promoted the notion of abortion as healthcare. We, however, affirm the dignity of women by protecting the sanctity of human life. Numerous studies have shown that abortion endangers the health and well-being of women, and we stand firmly against it.

Scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that abortion is safe. Research shows that a first-trimester abortion carries less than 0.05 percent risk of major complications, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and “pose[s] virtually no long-term risk of problems such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or birth defect, and little or no risk of preterm or low-birth-weight deliveries.”

There is similarly no evidence to back up the GOP’s claim that abortion endangers the well-being of women. A 2008 study from the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, an expansive analysis on current research regarding the issue, found that while those who have an abortion may experience a variety of feelings, “no evidence sufficient to support the claim that an observed association between abortion history and mental health was caused by the abortion per se, as opposed to other factors.”

As is the case for many of the anti-abortion myths perpetuated within the platform, many of the so-called experts who claim there is a link between abortion and mental illness are discredited anti-choice activists.

Myth #5: Mifepristone, a Drug Used for Medical Abortions, Is “Dangerous”

Both anti-choice activists and conservative Republicans have been vocal opponents of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA’s) March update to the regulations for mifepristone, a drug also known as Mifeprex and RU-486 that is used in medication abortions. However, in this year’s platform, the GOP goes a step further to claim that both the drug and its general approval by the FDA are “dangerous”:

We believe the FDA’s approval of Mifeprex, a dangerous abortifacient formerly known as RU-486, threatens women’s health, as does the agency’s endorsement of over-the-counter sales of powerful contraceptives without a physician’s recommendation. We support cutting federal and state funding for entities that endanger women’s health by performing abortions in a manner inconsistent with federal or state law.

Studies, however, have overwhelmingly found mifepristone to be safe. In fact, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals says mifepristone “is safer than acetaminophen,” aspirin, and Viagra. When the FDA conducted a 2011 post-market study of those who have used the drug since it was approved by the agency, they found that more than 1.5 million women in the U.S. had used it to end a pregnancy, only 2,200 of whom had experienced an “adverse event” after.

The platform also appears to reference the FDA’s approval of making emergency contraception such as Plan B available over the counter, claiming that it too is a threat to women’s health. However, studies show that emergency contraception is safe and effective at preventing pregnancy. According to the World Health Organization, side effects are “uncommon and generally mild.”

Analysis Abortion

Legislators Have Introduced 445 Provisions to Restrict Abortion So Far This Year

Elizabeth Nash & Rachel Benson Gold

So far this year, legislators have introduced 1,256 provisions relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights. However, states have also enacted 22 measures this year designed to expand access to reproductive health services or protect reproductive rights.

So far this year, legislators have introduced 1,256 provisions relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Of these, 35 percent (445 provisions) sought to restrict access to abortion services. By midyear, 17 states had passed 46 new abortion restrictions.

Including these new restrictions, states have adopted 334 abortion restrictions since 2010, constituting 30 percent of all abortion restrictions enacted by states since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973. However, states have also enacted 22 measures this year designed to expand access to reproductive health services or protect reproductive rights.

Mid year state restrictions

 

Signs of Progress

The first half of the year ended on a high note, with the U.S. Supreme Court handing down the most significant abortion decision in a generation. The Court’s ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt struck down abortion restrictions in Texas requiring abortion facilities in the state to convert to the equivalent of ambulatory surgical centers and mandating that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a local hospital; these two restrictions had greatly diminished access to services throughout the state (see Lessons from Texas: Widespread Consequences of Assaults on Abortion Access). Five other states (Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia) have similar facility requirements, and the Texas decision makes it less likely that these laws would be able to withstand judicial scrutiny (see Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers). Nineteen other states have abortion facility requirements that are less onerous than the ones in Texas; the fate of these laws in the wake of the Court’s decision remains unclear. 

Ten states in addition to Texas had adopted hospital admitting privileges requirements. The day after handing down the Texas decision, the Court declined to review lower court decisions that have kept such requirements in Mississippi and Wisconsin from going into effect, and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) announced that he would not enforce the state’s law. As a result of separate litigation, enforcement of admitting privileges requirements in Kansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma is currently blocked. That leaves admitting privileges in effect in Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee and Utah; as with facility requirements, the Texas decision will clearly make it harder for these laws to survive if challenged.

More broadly, the Court’s decision clarified the legal standard for evaluating abortion restrictions. In its 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, the Court had said that abortion restrictions could not impose an undue burden on a woman seeking to terminate her pregnancy. In Whole Woman’s Health, the Court stressed the importance of using evidence to evaluate the extent to which an abortion restriction imposes a burden on women, and made clear that a restriction’s burdens cannot outweigh its benefits, an analysis that will give the Texas decision a reach well beyond the specific restrictions at issue in the case.

As important as the Whole Woman’s Health decision is and will be going forward, it is far from the only good news so far this year. Legislators in 19 states introduced a bevy of measures aimed at expanding insurance coverage for contraceptive services. In 13 of these states, the proposed measures seek to bolster the existing federal contraceptive coverage requirement by, for example, requiring coverage of all U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved methods and banning the use of techniques such as medical management and prior authorization, through which insurers may limit coverage. But some proposals go further and plow new ground by mandating coverage of sterilization (generally for both men and women), allowing a woman to obtain an extended supply of her contraceptive method (generally up to 12 months), and/or requiring that insurance cover over-the-counter contraceptive methods. By July 1, both Maryland and Vermont had enacted comprehensive measures, and similar legislation was pending before Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R). And, in early July, Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) signed a measure into law allowing women to obtain a year’s supply of their contraceptive method.

071midyearstatecoveragetable

But the Assault Continues

Even as these positive developments unfolded, the long-standing assault on sexual and reproductive health and rights continued apace. Much of this attention focused on the release a year ago of a string of deceptively edited videos designed to discredit Planned Parenthood. The campaign these videos spawned initially focused on defunding Planned Parenthood and has grown into an effort to defund family planning providers more broadly, especially those who have any connection to abortion services. Since last July, 24 states have moved to restrict eligibility for funding in several ways:

  • Seventeen states have moved to limit family planning providers’ eligibility for reimbursement under Medicaid, the program that accounts for about three-fourths of all public dollars spent on family planning. In some cases, states have tried to exclude Planned Parenthood entirely from such funding. These attacks have come via both administrative and legislative means. For instance, the Florida legislature included a defunding provision in an omnibus abortion bill passed in March. As the controversy grew, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that administers Medicaid, sent a letter to state officials reiterating that federal law prohibits them from discriminating against family planning providers because they either offer abortion services or are affiliated with an abortion provider (see CMS Provides New Clarity For Family Planning Under Medicaid). Most of these state attempts have been blocked through legal challenges. However, a funding ban went into effect in Mississippi on July 1, and similar measures are awaiting implementation in three other states.
  • Fourteen states have moved to restrict family planning funds controlled by the state, with laws enacted in four states. The law in Kansas limits funding to publicly run programs, while the law in Louisiana bars funding to providers who are associated with abortion services. A law enacted in Wisconsin directs the state to apply for federal Title X funding and specifies that if this funding is obtained, it may not be distributed to family planning providers affiliated with abortion services. (In 2015, New Hampshire moved to deny Title X funds to Planned Parenthood affiliates; the state reversed the decision in 2016.) Finally, the budget adopted in Michigan reenacts a provision that bars the allocation of family planning funds to organizations associated with abortion. Notably, however, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) vetoed a similar measure.
  • Ten states have attempted to bar family planning providers’ eligibility for related funding, including monies for sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, prevention of interpersonal violence, and prevention of breast and cervical cancer. In three of these states, the bans are the result of legislative action; in Utah, the ban resulted from action by the governor. Such a ban is in effect in North Carolina; the Louisiana measure is set to go into effect in August. Implementation of bans in Ohio and Utah has been blocked as a result of legal action.

071midyearstateeligibilitytable

The first half of 2016 was also noteworthy for a raft of attempts to ban some or all abortions. These measures fell into four distinct categories:

  • By the end of June, four states enacted legislation to ban the most common method used to perform abortions during the second trimester. The Mississippi and West Virginia laws are in effect; the other two have been challenged in court. (Similar provisions enacted last year in Kansas and Oklahoma are also blocked pending legal action.)
  • South Carolina and North Dakota both enacted measures banning abortion at or beyond 20 weeks post-fertilization, which is equivalent to 22 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period. This brings to 16 the number of states with these laws in effect (see State Policies on Later Abortions).
  • Indiana and Louisiana adopted provisions banning abortions under specific circumstances. The Louisiana law banned abortions at or after 20 weeks post-fertilization in cases of diagnosed genetic anomaly; the law is slated to go into effect on August 1. Indiana adopted a groundbreaking measure to ban abortion for purposes of race or sex selection, in cases of a genetic anomaly, or because of the fetus’ “color, national origin, or ancestry”; enforcement of the measure is blocked pending the outcome of a legal challenge.
  • Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) vetoed a sweeping measure that would have banned all abortions except those necessary to protect the woman’s life.

071midyearstateabortionstable

In addition, 14 states (Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah) enacted other types of abortion restrictions during the first half of the year, including measures to impose or extend waiting periods, restrict access to medication abortion, and establish regulations on abortion clinics.

Zohra Ansari-Thomas, Olivia Cappello, and Lizamarie Mohammed all contributed to this analysis.