This Year in Anti-Choice Tomfoolery: The West

We have come to the final chapter of this week’s series on anti-abortion legislation. It’s been relatively quiet on the western front, with only one bill requiring parental consent in Montana and a ruling on Idaho’s 20-week abortion ban.

You can find your state’s current reproductive laws on the Guttmacher Institute. You can also usually find current proposed bills on Open States, or on your state legislature’s website.


  • Failed: A ban on the use of state Medicaid funds to pay for abortions.


  • Failed: The Ninth Circuit ruled that the 2011 20-week ban is unconstitutional. They also ruled that the state cannot prosecute people for obtaining “unlawful” abortions after Jennie Linn McCormack, a single mother of three who could not afford to get to the nearest provider, ordered medications online to end her pregnancy.


  • Passed: Minors must obtain parental consent before getting an abortion.


  • This is the only state whose abortion laws have remained the same since Roe v. Wade.
  • In progress: A bill that would require crisis pregnancy centers that don’t employ medical staff to be upfront about the services they do and don’t provide, and prevent anti-choice doctors and nurses from volunteering at these centers. No action has been taken on the bill since April, and it is likely to fail this session.


  • In progress: A bill requiring minors notify a parent or guardian at least 48 hours before getting an abortion. The assembly adjourned in June, but this bill has been retained for the next session.


  • Failed: A “heartbeat” bill that would ban abortions at 6 weeks, before most people even know they’re pregnant.
  • Failed: A bill that would require an ultrasound 24 hours before an abortion, along with information on the medically unsound abortion-breast cancer link. The patient would receive a list of crisis pregnancy centers that perform free ultrasounds. The bill would require patients to sign a form stating they were offered the chance to view the ultrasound and listen to the heartbeat. There were no exceptions for rape or incest.

Surprisingly, Utah did not attempt to pass any laws restricting reproductive rights, even with a Republican majority in both chambers.

That wraps up the series on state anti-abortion legislation in 2013. If I’ve done my job, you are now either full of rage, hopelessness, exhaustion, or some unholy combination of the three. (Or, if you support these laws, possibly a combination of glee and righteous superiority, in which case, congratulations on helping bring us several steps closer to using coat hangers, knitting needles, and turpentine as surgical tools again.) So, where do we go from here?

Politics aren’t just important on a national level – big decisions happen in state legislatures, county commissions, and city councils. Typically pathetic voter turnout to local elections means your vote actually does count. If you want anti-choice politicians out of office, then vote. If you want your representative to vote a certain way, tell them. They can’t read your mind.

The media has done a decent job reporting on some of the more egregious bills moving through state legislature, but they don’t catch everything. Keep up to date using your state legislature’s website, Open States, and social media. When you see one of these bills come through, start making noise. Contact your representatives, talk to your friends, write to newspapers and magazines, and post on your social media pages. Keep in touch with your state and local activist groups and participate in rallies, petitions, and other events. Don’t let your representatives quietly strip your rights away.

Get on the offense. Contact your local activist groups and representatives and tell them what bills you want to see. Examples include those requiring crisis pregnancy centers to be honest about their services, resolutions reaffirming the right to choose, and increased funding for comprehensive family planning centers.

You can help people access safe, legal abortion by contributing to the National Network of Abortion Funds or bowling in the National Abortion Access Bowl-A-Thon. Honestly, just $10 can make all the difference to somebody. Send a letter of support to your nearest abortion provider, or volunteer as a clinic escort to help patients safely navigate the gauntlet of anti-choice protestors. Let your friends know you’re there to support them, no matter what choice they make.

If your pro-choice activism is limited to online activities, spread some of my other Tumblr posts around to inform people about abortion, voting, and other resources.

Thanks for slogging through this with me. Let’s start turning the tide.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *