2011 was a banner year for anti-choice activists who succeeded in pushing through a record number of abortion restrictions. But it’s a new year, and it appears the GOP is dead set on outdoing itself. Republicans in Congress and across the country are introducing a variety pack of extreme anti-abortion bills — including personhood initiatives, heartbeat bills, and fetal pain bills — that saw some success last year. Here is a run-down of the abortion restrictions American women across the country are already facing in the first month of 2012:
- PERSONHOOD: The Virginia General Assembly’s very first bill, House Bill 1, is a “personhood” measure that defines life as beginning at conception and would essentially outlaw abortions. Modeling it on Mississippi’s failed measure, Virginia Republicans threaten to outlaw birth control and in vitro fertilization for couples trying to have a baby. Anti-choice activists hope to push similar measures in at least 11 other states, including Ohio and Kansas.
- RACE-BASED ABORTIONS: Following in Arizona’s footsteps, Florida Republicans introduced a bill that would “require abortion providers to sign an affidavit stating they’re not performing the procedure because the woman did not want a child of a particular gender or race.” Despite a complete lack of evidence, they insist that minority women are seeking abortions, or have a higher abortion rate in their communities, because they loathe the race of the fetus.
- FETAL PAIN: Florida Republicans are simultaneously pushing a bill that prohibits abortion after 20 weeks based on the unfounded idea that fetuses can feel pain. “They suck their thumbs,” said state sponsor Rep. Daniel Davis (R). “They get hiccups. They get excited when their mom talks. They feel pain.” The medical community, however, insists that it is highly unlikely the fetus registers pain as its brain is not developed enough. U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) introduced the same measure to ban post-20 week abortions for women in Washington, D.C in order to protect a fetus from “the agonizing process of being aborted.”
- HEARTBEAT BILL: While a more radical heartbeat bill is slowly proceeding in Ohio, another kind of “heartbeat” bill is also gaining a foothold in the Oklahoma legislature. State Sen. Dan Newberry (R) and state Rep. Pam Peterson (R) filed companion measures that “require abortion providers to use a fetal heart rate monitor on the fetus of a woman who is at least eight weeks pregnant and make the heartbeat of the unborn child audible before an abortion is performed.” The heartbeat can often be detected as early as “six to seven weeks,” before a women even knows she is pregnant.
House GOP Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) are also pushing their own anti-abortion bills in Congress. Duncan’s bill would “require abortion providers to obtain written certification from a woman seeking an abortion, then to wait 24 hours after that certification before performing the abortion.” Jordan’s bill would “require women seeking an abortion to be given the chance to view an ultrasound of their unborn child before obtaining the abortion.”