An anti-abortion billboard depicting U.S. President Barack Obama hangs on the side of a building on March 31, 2011 in Chicago. Life Always, the group behind the controversial "Dangerous Place" billboard in New York City, plans up to 30-plus billboards in South Side neighborhoods. UPI/Brian Kersey | License Photo
WASHINGTON, April 14 (UPI) -- More U.S. states are restricting abortions in an "anti-abortion free-for-all," said a Guttmacher Institute spokesman, an abortion rights advocacy group.
Boosted by Republican victories in last year's elections and federal healthcare reforms, states have begun adopting their own laws concerning abortion coverage under plans offered by health exchanges, Elizabeth Nash, a public policy associate at the institute, told CNN in an interview published Thursday.
"It's pretty much an all-out, anti-abortion, free-for-all out there," Nash said. "I've been doing this for almost 12 years now, so I feel like I have some historical sense. This year is just unlike any other year we've seen before."
The Guttmacher Institute report, released Tuesday, indicated "proposals introduced this year are more hostile to abortion rights than in the past," the institute said in a release.
This week, Kansas became the second state in the nation after Nebraska, to enact a "fetal pain" law banning abortions after 21 weeks based on studies that "fetuses can feel pain beginning after the 21st week of pregnancy," a statement by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's office said.
Sixteen other states are considering measures modeled after Nebraska's law, one of the most stringent abortion restrictions in recent years, the Guttmacher report indicated.
"They want to ban abortion in any way they can: if they can do it at 20 weeks, they will do it at 20 weeks," Nash said. "There are other scientific reports that say fetuses cannot feel pain at 20 weeks.
In Arizona, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law a ban on state tax credits for donations to Planned Parenthood or other abortion providers. The law also bars public funding for abortion training at universities and hospitals for physicians.
Arizona's ban against state taxpayers taking a credit for donating to Planned Parenthood or other groups serving the working poor comes after a congressional Republican effort failed to strip $317 million in federal funding from Planned Parenthood.
The Guttmacher Institute report said lawmakers introduced 916 abortion-related to measures in 49 state legislatures convened for their regular session through March 31. Louisiana's Legislature doesn't convene until late April. In the same time frame, seven states enacted 15 new laws on these issues.
The report indicated state lawmakers were proposing "little in the way of proactive initiatives aimed at expanding access to reproductive health-related services."