For the most part, it was a good session in the State legislature. Although we lost on one important bill, it was a productive session not only defeating the bills that were opposed to reproductive justice, but also getting some pro-active bills passed.
We were able to defeat House Bill 1218 which would have forced women to not only wait 24 hours but also to undergo an ultrasound before seeking an abortion. This bill purported to be for the woman’s safety, but it provided no medical benefit and would have created an undue burden upon a woman seeking an abortion. Such bills not only make a woman have to undergo a medically unnecessary procedure, but are more about shaming women seeking an abortion. A House committee voted down this incredibly insulting mandatory waiting period and ultrasound bill designed to stall and ultimately limit access to reproductive care! Bills like this one in other States have forced women to miss work, find childcare, get local accommodations, pay extra transportation costs, and are designed to make it harder for women to get an abortion.
A great victory came in the passage of the State Budget which includes continued funding for the long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) program.
We made progress with the passage of House Bill 1438 that ensures that pregnant women are provided with reasonable accommodations in the workplace. The workplace has not always been the most accommodating place for pregnant women. This bill “makes it an unfair employment practice if an employer fails to provide reasonable accommodations for an applicant for employment or an employee for conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. The bill requires each employer to provide a notice of rights regarding the unfair employment practice to his or her employees.” [Bill Summary] The bill passed the House but it is assigned to Senate Business Labor and Technology Committee where it may find a hard road. However, it is still alive and headed to its third reading.
To our disappointment, HB16-1294 intended to overcome certain barriers to receiving contraception failed in the Senate after passing in the House. As posted by NARAL, “Creating barriers to particular methods of contraception not only deprives women of their reproductive autonomy, increases the risk of unintended pregnancy and hurts women who may use birth control to fight acne or relieve PMS.” This bill would have helped to secure for women the contraception already outlined in national laws.
HB 1322 which requires a yearly supply of oral contraceptives be dispensed did pass the House, but it was assigned to Senate State Affairs committee where it met the same terminal fate as HB 1294.
We were grateful that:
HB 16-1007 given the name Offenses Against Unborn Children was postponed indefinitely by the House Committee on Business Affairs and Labor; that HB 16-1113 a personhood bill was also postponed indefinitely by House Committee on Health, Insurance, & Environment;
and that HB 16-1203 a TRAP* law designed to make clinics follow ridiculous and unwarranted requirements, the intent of which is to shut down clinics, was postponed indefinitely by House Committee on Health, Insurance, & Environment.
We are very grateful to all those who have worked so hard to provide reproductive justice. Legislation does matter.
* Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers