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Texas Abortion Fight Is Just One Of Many This Year

The eyes of the nation may be on Texas, as legislators fight over whether to impose strict new regulations on abortion and those who provide it. But a report on abortion laws and regulation across the country finds that the Lone Star State isn't alone.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, during the first half of 2013, more than a dozen states enacted 45 separate provisions restricting access to abortion. That was well down from the record-breaking 80 restrictions enacted in 2011, but it's still the second-highest the group ever recorded. The Center for Reproductive Rights counts 15 states that have passed restrictive laws this year.

Arkansas and North Dakota each passed two separate bans on abortion, both earlier and later in pregnancy. (The previous 12-week ban in Arkansas has already been blocked by a federal court; and a six-week ban has been challenged in North Dakota.) If, as expected, the Texas law is passed in the coming days, that would make five bans passed in three states in 2013.

Meanwhile, at least six states — Alabama, North Dakota, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin and Virginia — imposed stricter regulations on abortion clinics.

Abortion-rights backers charge many of those regulations, which include requiring doctors to have hospital-admitting privileges, aren't necessary to ensure the safety of patients and are intended, instead, to force the abortion clinics out of business. North Carolina, like Texas, is still in the midst of a high-stakes debate over the issue.

And four more states — Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana and Mississippi — prohibited the use of telemedicine to prescribe the abortion pill RU-486. That brings to 12 the number of states that now require a physician to be in the same room with a patient in order to prescribe the drug that can terminate a pregnancy.

Kansas and Montana went a step further in trying to deter women from having abortions. Both states passed legislation that would shield health care providers from malpractice suits if they withhold information about a woman's pregnancy because they are concerned it might lead her to consider having the procedure.

While many legislatures are now adjourned or wrapping up sessions for the year, abortion opponents are still hoping that the outrage generated by the May murder conviction of abortion provider Dr. Kermit Gosnell will help generate more legislation for their cause.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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