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Democrats push bills related to contraception access following Alabama IVF ruling

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BY: KELCIE MOSELEY-MORRIS

Abortion-related bills continue to be introduced and debated in 40 legislatures across the country, especially in states where the procedure is already banned. It can be hard to monitor them all, so States Newsroom’s Reproductive Rights Today team tracks certain bills that could become law in their respective states in a biweekly legislative roundup. Depending on the partisan makeup of a state’s legislature and other state government officials, some bills have a higher chance of passing and becoming law than others.

Alabama

Following outcry over loss of access to in vitro fertilization services after the Alabama Supreme Court declared frozen embryos to have the same legal standing as human beings, state legislators quickly passed a bill extending civil and criminal immunity to IVF clinics. Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed it the same night, though questions still remain about whether the measure is sufficient protection for providers, Alabama Reflector reported.

Now House Democrats are trying to protect access to birth control in the state where nearly all abortions are banned at any stage of pregnancy.

House Bill 279: The bill establishes the right for individuals to use contraception and for health care providers to distribute it and offer guidance as to how it should be used, according to Alabama Reflector. Democrats expressed concern that birth control is next on the list for being banned or restricted, and said the law would provide protection, particularly for people with low incomes or those who don’t have health insurance and face limited options for affordable birth control. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has not indicated whether the bill will receive a hearing.

Status: Referred to House Judiciary Committee, awaiting hearing

Sponsor: Democratic Rep. Anthony Daniels

Idaho

Idaho has a near-total abortion ban at any stage of pregnancy, with exceptions to save the pregnant patient’s life, and in cases of rape and incest during the first trimester.

Senate Bill 1234: By one vote, the House of Representatives passed a bill requiring insurance companies to cover up to six months of contraceptives instead of the standard one- to three-month supplies, reports Idaho Capital Sun. The bill was sponsored by one of few Democrats in the state legislature, and Planned Parenthood Great Northwest advocated for its passage.

Status: Passed both chambers, awaiting signature from Republican Gov. Brad Little

Sponsor: Democratic Sen. Melissa Wintrow

Iowa

According to the state’s legislative session timeline, March 15 was the final date for bills to be reported out of House and Senate committees, and for the rest of the session, the chambers will only consider outstanding legislation. New bills, with exceptions for those related to taxes, budget and other standard government functions, won’t come forward after that date. So far, only one abortion-related bill has advanced through the process, although amendments related to abortion policy could be added to measures still under consideration.

Abortion is legal in Iowa after a court blocked a six-week abortion ban from going into effect in July 2023.

House File 2617: On Thursday, Iowa Capital Dispatch reported the Senate Education Committee passed an amended version of this bill, which requires students in grades 7-12 to be shown videos and graphics about fetal development from fertilization to birth in health classes. Unlike previous versions, the committee removed a reference stating the video should be comparable to the “Meet Baby Olivia” video, which is produced by Live Action, a national anti-abortion rights organization. Critics of the bill, including medical organizations, told legislators the video includes inaccurate medical information and pushed anti-abortion messages.

Status: Passed by Senate Education Committee, awaiting full vote in the Senate. The bill has already passed the House.

Sponsor: Republican Sen. Jeff Taylor

Kansas

Republican legislators in Kansas continue to introduce bills related to abortion, despite Kansas voters’ overwhelming rejection of abortion bans in a referendum shortly after the Dobbs decision in 2022. Abortion is legal in Kansas, and six clinics provide in-clinic services.

House Bill 2813: This bill makes the act of “abortion coercion” a felony. According to reporting from Kansas Reflector, sponsor Rep. Rebecca Schmoe, a Republican, said she was pressured by a doctor to terminate her pregnancy over concerns that giving birth was risking her life. Proponents of the bill said coercion can also come from parents, boyfriends or traffickers. The charge would come with a jail sentence of 30 days to one year and a fine of between $500 and $5,000, unless the person charged is the father, in which case the penalties would be 90 days to one year in jail and a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000.

Status: House hearing held, awaiting committee vote

Sponsor: Republican Rep. Rebecca Schmoe

House Bill 2814: This bill would require an ultrasound to be performed before an abortion, but would allow the patient to “avert her eyes from such images,” according to Kansas Reflector.

Status: Awaiting hearing in Committee on Federal and State Affairs

Sponsor: Requested on behalf of Kansans for Life and Kansas Family Voice by Republican Rep. Leah Howell

House Bill 2749Kansas Reflector reported the House of Representatives passed this bill, which requires abortion providers to ask patients why they are terminating their pregnancies, on March 6. An amended version of the bill removed a list of questions about whether the patient felt the pregnancy interfered with a career or prevented people from knowing they had been sexually active, replaced by questions around age, marital status, domestic violence considerations and the method of abortion. Amendments proposed by Democrats that would survey men to ask why they were undergoing a vasectomy or seeking care for erectile dysfunction were rejected.

The bill was requested by Kansans for Life, the main group that pushed the failed 2022 referendum to allow abortion bans. It would also apply to minors.

Status: Passed by House, scheduled for a hearing in the Senate on Tuesday, March 19

Sponsor: Requested on behalf of Kansans for Life by Republican Rep. Ron Bryce

Missouri

Nearly all abortions are banned in Missouri, but lawmakers have continued to try to deny Planned Parenthood from receiving reimbursements under the state’s Medicaid program.

House Bill 2634/Senate Bill 1168This legislation prohibits the spending of any public funds on an abortion facility or its affiliates or associates, including Medicaid through the MO HealthNet program. Missouri Independent reports the bill is targeting Planned Parenthood clinics, which do not provide abortions in Missouri but may provide referrals to clinics in other states for abortion care. The clinics do provide contraceptives, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and cancer, and general wellness visits. The identical bills are advancing in their respective chambers.

Status: Passed by the House, awaiting approval in the Senate

Sponsor: Republican Rep. Cody Smith and Republican Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman

Oklahoma

Oklahoma has a near-total abortion ban, but many of the abortion-related bills have not advanced past committee so far this session, which began in early February.

House Bill 3013: The act of “trafficking” abortion pills would become a felony, punishable by a $100,000 fine, 10 years in prison or both. It does not apply to pharmacists or manufacturers lawfully distributing abortion medication.

Status: Passed by the House of Representatives 77-18, to be referred to the Senate

Sponsor: Republican Reps. Kevin McDugle and Cody Maynard

South Dakota

While activists continue to gather signatures for a ballot initiative to add abortion rights to the state constitution, the South Dakota Legislature passed House Bill 1244, which allows people to withdraw their signatures from petitions for ballot measures, referendums and constitutional amendment questions. South Dakota Searchlight reported the bill sponsor said people have been “misled, or frankly, fraudulently induced” into signing the petitions, and the bill gives them a choice.

Status: Passed both chambers, awaiting signature from Republican Gov. Kristi Noem

Sponsor: Republican Rep. Jon Hansen

House Bill 1224: Searchlight reported this bill mandates that the South Dakota Health Department create an informational video describing the state’s abortion law, including what actions do and do not qualify as an abortion, the most common medical conditions that can threaten a pregnant person’s life, and standards of care around treatment of pregnant patients, among other provisions.

Status: Passed both chambers, awaiting signature from Republican Gov. Kristi Noem

Sponsor: Republican Rep. Taylor Rehfeldt, 27 other Republicans and one Democrat

This article is republished from the Michigan Advance under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.