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Oklahoma not the only state taking big steps to limit abortion

Oklahoma state Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, left, and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, right, on the floor of the House in Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
Oklahoma state Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, left, and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, right, on the floor of the House in Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Associated Press

Before Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, vetoed a bill Friday that would have made performing abortions a felony, five other states this month quietly advanced their own measures to curb access to the procedure.

Lawmakers in Arizona, Missouri, Kansas, Mississippi and Louisiana have pushed actions to halt funding to women’s health clinics and expand waiting periods for women seeking abortions.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a ban on abortion unconstitutional in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, several states have passed laws that make abortions harder to get — limiting who can perform them and how and when they can be performed — or restricting funding for clinics that provide them. Oklahoma’s bill is the most aggressive attempt in years, following a spate of new regulations in recent weeks.

On May 6, the Missouri legislature passed a budget that rejects $8 million in federal tax dollars for Planned Parenthood, which provides a wide range of women’s health services, including abortions. Missouri is the second state after Texas to cut off such funding.

The same day, Arizona lawmakers passed a bill giving the state power to block Planned Parenthood from Medicaid funding. Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed it Tuesday, granting the director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System — the state’s Medicaid program — new authority to decide which individuals or groups can’t use the money.

On May 10, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, signed a bill that prevents patients from paying for care at Planned Parenthood through Medicaid.

The next day, the Louisiana legislature passed a measure tripling the state’s mandatory waiting period for an abortion from 24 hours to 72. Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, signed it Thursday. Five other states require a three-day window: Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah and North Carolina.

In Kansas, the state recently announced it would no longer allow low-income residents on Medicaid to receive any health services from Planned Parenthood. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback had promised to defund Planned Parenthood during his State of the State speech, citing video images that some said showed the organization arranging for the sale of fetal tissue.

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