Small, state-level pro-life victories 

Rather than take on abortion at the national level, states are increasing restrictions on the procedure within their own borders. According to a recent Gallup poll, some of these restrictions are more popular than others.

The poll, conducted by phone among 1,020 adults across the 50 states and the District of Columbia, reports that a majority of Americans support regulations such as a doctor being required to inform the woman of the risks of abortion, a 24-hour waiting period, parental consent for abortion and a ban on partial-birth abortion.

The poll, with a margin of error at ± 4 percentage points, found that taking all federal funding away from health clinics that perform abortions was viewed less favorably, with 57 percent opposed.

Six states have passed laws virtually banning all abortions after five months of pregnancy. Nebraska was the first to pass such a bill with its fetal pain bill in 2010, which banned abortions after 20 weeks. Other states to pass similar measures include Kansas, Alabama, Idaho, Indiana and Oklahoma. These bills do allow exceptions when the mother’s life is in danger or she faces physical impairment.

The pro-life victories have been small and incremental:

The Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights, estimates that only about 1.5 percent of all abortions in the U.S. take place after 20 weeks of pregnancy. That would be roughly 18,000 annually as of the 2008, the last year with nationwide figures — and probably only a few hundred, at most, in states enacting the new bans.

But pro-life activists are now pushing for similar legislation in the states that do not have such regulations. “If we have to pass them in 50 states — and that's the plan — we will do that," Mary Spaulding Balch, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, told AP.

Other recent legislation includes Ohio’s controversial bill that would ban abortions after the first detectable fetal heartbeat, which usually appears at six weeks. That legislation remains pending in the Republican-held legislature.

Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas and North Carolina have passed laws that takes away Planned Parenthood’s public funding. And a Texas law requires the doctor to conduct a sonogram before the abortion and describe the fetus’ features to the woman undergoing the procedure.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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