Every week, Rewire.News will highlight trends in abortion-related legislation moving through the states, and how those bills might affect abortion access. This week, we take a look at an Oklahoma bill that would punish doctors for providing abortion care, Arizona legislation to funnel taxpayer money to anti-choice groups, and a total abortion ban in Mississippi.
The Oklahoma House passed legislation last Thursday that would strip doctors of their medical licenses if they provide abortion care. The bill’s sponsor called it part of the ongoing effort to end legal abortion in the state, the Associated Press reported.
The bill, HB 1182, stipulates that a doctor would lose their license for one year if they’re found to have provided abortion care, with an exception for when a patient’s life is at risk. The 71-21 vote to approve the bill came after four hours of debate, according to the AP. Oklahoma Rep. Cyndi Munson (D-Oklahoma City) called the anti-choice legislation “dangerous.”
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The legislation, if passed by the state senate and signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt (R), is likely to face a court challenge.
Less than a year after Mississippi passed a near-total abortion ban that’s been blocked by the courts, a Republican lawmaker has introduced a total abortion ban. According to the “Human Life Protection Act,” or HB 627, a physician who provides abortion care would be subject to up to two years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
The legislation shares a name with the total abortion ban passed by Alabama last year, and like that ban, it would end legal abortion, with an exception to prevent a serious health risk to the pregnant person. (The health risks would need to be confirmed by two doctors.) Rep. Randy Boyd (R-Mantachie) filed the legislation in the state house last Thursday, and it has been sent to the judiciary committee; the bill has no co-sponsors yet.
Arizona Republicans advanced a proposal to fund anti-choice organizations’ efforts to dissuade people from abortion care. The legislation, which was approved last week by committees in the state senate and house, promises $1.5 million dollars a year to set up a “family health pilot program” to “support childbirth as an alternative to abortion”
The legislation, SB 1328 and HB 3288, would require the department of health to contract with a nonprofit to run a statewide system to provide “direct services, support services, social services case management and referrals to the biological or adoptive parents of children under two years of age, including unborn children.” Money dedicated for the program “may not be used for abortion referral services or distributed to entities that promote, refer or perform abortions,” according to the bill.
A similar bill, pushed by the right-wing Center for Arizona Policy, failed in the senate last year after two Republicans opposed it. The center describes the proposal as similar to the Texas Alternatives to Abortion program, which gives taxpayer money to deceptive anti-choice pregnancy centers.
The legislation would also provide funds to maintain Arizona’s information and referral telephone line—on the condition that the service is barred from giving information about abortion, or referrals to any entity that provides abortion services. Although the service received only three calls in 2018 related to abortion, according to the Arizona Mirror, the Center for Arizona Policy and its allies in the legislature have blocked funding the last few years.
In late January, Michigan House Rep. Beth Griffin (R-Mattawan) and 30 co-sponsors introduced a bill that would force doctors to tell patients about the unproven concept of “abortion reversal.” Such legislation is based on the medically dubious—and potentially dangerous—idea that a person can stop a medication abortion after they have already taken the first pill in the two-pill regimen.
HB 5374 is now in the house committee on families, children, and seniors. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), a supporter of abortion rights, would likely veto the bill if it reaches her desk. Republicans control both chambers of the Michigan legislature.
Dr. Sarah Wallett, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of Michigan, said the idea is “pseudo-science, and it is a demonstrated danger to patients to even suggest it as a ‘reversal’ option,” in a statement to the Holland Sentinel.
“Legislators under the guise of helping women want to force physicians like myself to do something that (as a highly trained medical professional) I know to be harmful,” Dr. Wallett continued. “This is infuriating. Legally requiring physicians to lie to and endanger their patients is abominable.”
Lawmakers in five states (North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arkansas) passed “abortion reversal” laws last year.