Commentary Health Systems

Snipping Pink Sentimentality: Persisting on the Whys of Breast Cancer

Eleanor J. Bader

If there is evidence that something is bad for human health, Breast Cancer Action believes, quite simply, that it should not be used.

Cross-posted from On the Issues Magazine.

Three years ago, The International Journal of Chemistry published an article positing Biphenyl-A, or BPA, as a primary culprit in the breast cancer epidemic of the past 50 years. The report sounded an alarm because BPA has not only been used to make plastic and epoxy resins, but has become embedded in American life, found in everything from food packaging to children’s sippy cups to flame retardants. Most frightening, more than eight billion pounds of the 54-year-old product enters the marketplace each year.

While the Journal study caused a flurry of attention among policy makers, the findings did not come as a surprise to Breast Cancer Action, a San Francisco based activist organization that works to publicize — and organizes to stop – the environmental causes of breast cancer. Elenore Pred, Breast Cancer Action’s founder, had an ambitious goal when she started the group in 1990: She wanted people to recognize breast cancer as a public health emergency rather than as a personal crisis.

It’s not that Breast Cancer Action minimizes the upheaval caused by a breast cancer diagnosis. Far from it. Instead, the group delves into the whys, looking into every possible cause for breast cancer’s ubiquity, from proven causal links like family history, tobacco usage, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle, to less publicized — and in some circles less agreed upon — illness triggers, including chemicals found in the foods we eat and products we use.

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At its core, says Communications Manager Angela Wall, Breast Cancer Action advocates “precautionary principles.” That is, if there is evidence that something is bad for human health, Breast Cancer Action believes, quite simply, that it should not be used. “Once we know something is hurting us, how much evidence do we need before we stop putting it into our bodies?” she asks.

“Milking Cancer” causes a stir

Take the Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone, r-BGH, a genetically engineered chemical compound, also known as Posilac, that was developed by Monsanto and approved by the FDA in 1993. While r-BGH increases milk production by approximately 10 percent, it also causes cows to develop health problems including mastitis and bacterial infections. Worse, milk from r-BGH-treated cows contains hormones that medical experts such as Dr. Samuel S. Epstein, Chair of the Cancer Prevention Coalition and author of Got [genetically engineered] Milk?, believe increase the risk not only of breast cancer, but of colon, lung, and prostate cancers.

Breast Cancer Action responded to the researchers’ findings by creating the Milking Cancer campaign in 2009. Unlike organizations that try to stop individual dairies from using r-BGH, BCA has gone to the source, targeting pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, the sole worldwide manufacturer of r-BGH. “We feel that the way to stop cancer is to stop making things that cause it,” Wall says. “The hypocrisy here is obvious. Eli Lilly — which purchased Monsanto’s Posilac Division in 2008 for $300 million–sells drugs to treat cancer while also producing a product that is a known carcinogen. We’ve already collected more than 6,000 signatures on a petition asking Lilly to stop making r-BGH and there’s been a groundswell of support at the grassroots level to end its production. But we know that winning this fight is going to require a long, hard organizing effort.”

The tip of a chemical iceberg

That said, some headway is already evident. A campaign called Yoplait: Put a Lid On It prompted General Mills to stop using milk from cows treated with r-BGH in its yogurt. Shortly after Yoplait agreed to this, Dannon followed suit. Other companies, including Wal-Mart, Starbuck’s and Ben and Jerry’s have also committed to selling or using r-BGH-free products.

Pesticides are also prominent on Breast Cancer Action’s agenda. They are currently focusing on methyl iodide and have teamed up with the Pesticide Action Network of North America to prohibit its use in California’s strawberry and tomato fields.

Dr. John Froines, chair of the California Scientific Review Committee, called methyl iodide “one of the most toxic chemicals on earth.” That statement, along with similarly condemnatory testimony from other scientists, set Breast Cancer Action’s wheels in motion. They’ve put the precautionary principle into action, and are demanding that methyl iodide not be sprayed on the fruits and vegetables we eat. While some may think it’s a no-brainer to avoid a known poison, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the use of methyl iodide in 2008. Their rationale? According to FDA officials, methyl iodide is toxic only if consumed or inhaled in enormous quantities. Not so, say PANNA, Breast Cancer Action, and other activists. They brought their concerns to newly installed California Governor Jerry Brown on his first day in office — January 1, 2011 — and anxiously await his response to their demand that he stop the chemical from being used on crops.

And methyl iodide is just the tip of the chemical iceberg, which is why Breast Cancer Action is actively involved in pushing Congress to revise the 35-year-old Toxic Substance Control Act, or TOSCA. As a member of the “Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition, they’re asking Washington to revisit the way chemicals are tested and approved. According to the Coalition, “TOSCA grandfathered in 62,000 chemicals when it was initially passed in 1976 without requiring further testing to demonstrate safety.” Even more frightening, only a few of the more than 82,000 substances currently in use have been tested and only a handful of the most venomous –lead, mercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls — have been outlawed or limited. “Traditionally, chemicals have been regulated one at a time,” Breast Cancer Action Program Manager Kimberly Irish says. “We want a sweeping change that puts the onus on companies to prove that something is safe before it is released to the public.”

Beauty products — from shampoos, to make-up, to nail polishes — are a prime example and women’s groups and environmental activists have begun to focus on the danger they pose to both workers and consumers. Breast Cancer Action is presently participating in the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, a project that has brought manufacturers, salon owners and workers together. “The industry folks feel it’s up to workers and owners not to breathe in fumes; the workers and owners feel there should be better, safer products,” Irish explains. “Many salon workers have breathing problems and asthma. They also have an increased risk of breast cancer from what’s known as the toxic trio in polishes and sealants: Formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate.” A small victory was won when San Francisco passed an ordinance — the Collaborative hopes that it will become a national model — giving a “green business” citation to salons that do not use toxic products.

Collectively questions to get action

These campaigns — centered on advocacy to eradicate the pollutants that cause breast cancer — form the crux of Breast Cancer Action’s day-to-day work. “Involuntary exposures” are the prime target, explained former Executive Director Barbara Brenner in a 2007 podcast. “(T)he things to which we are involuntarily exposed are things that people can’t protect themselves against just by changing their behavior. That’s a question of what we all need to work on together,” Brenner said.

Breast Cancer Action has also taken on drugs that are approved to treat breast cancer. Case in point, Avastin. The group was instrumental in pushing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remove Avastin as a breast cancer treatment in December 2010. According to Irish, Breast Cancer Action looks at three things when assessing the efficacy of a particular drug. “It has to improve the patient’s survival rate, improve the person’s overall quality of life, and cost less than other similar treatments,” she begins. “In the case of Avastin, the drug was approved for breast cancer patients in 2008. Approval was fast-tracked, meaning it did not go through the full rigor of drug trials. When it was studied, researchers found that it did not prolong life, cost $88,000 a year, and caused perforation of the stomach lining and heart attacks in some users.”

And Breast Cancer Action is also mindful of the fact that race, economics, and where we live and work impact survival rates and treatment choices. Indeed, while one in eight U.S. women will develop breast cancer, African Americans and Latinas die earlier than their Caucasian peers. Finding out why, and then changing these conditions, is at the heart of Breast Cancer Action’s mission.

“We use a social justice lens in all of our work,” says Program Manager Kimberly Irish. “We ask, how can we eliminate social inequalities as they apply to breast cancer?

Part of the answer, say Breast Cancer Action staff, is making clear and accessible information available to everyone who needs it. This means that in addition to its community organizing efforts, Breast Cancer Action attends to the needs of people with breast cancer as well as their loved ones.

“We receive more than 1,000 calls a year from women who are newly diagnosed or who have a family member or friend who was just diagnosed,” Wall says. “Sometimes they don’t understand what’s happening and sometimes they want more information about a particular stage of cancer or a particular treatment. They ask lots of questions: ‘I’m 35. Should I have a mammogram?’ Or, ‘My mom died of breast cancer. Do you think I should be tested to see if I have the gene that predisposes me to the disease?’”

It goes without saying that Breast Cancer Action tries to provide callers with good, solid data and referrals. Still, the bulk of their organizing centers on fighting for a safer, cleaner world. This puts them at odds with those who favor pink ribbon “awareness” campaigns. After all, Breast Cancer Action asks, what good is awareness if the root causes of breast cancer remain unchanged?

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.


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.


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.


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.