While Republicans in Congress presented a master plan to protect women from indoor-tanning taxes and insurance coverage for abortion this week, state legislators around the country kept busy with their own women’s-rights pet projects. Here’s a digest of some of the recent decisions American elected officials have made about the stuff women are and aren’t allowed to do.
On Thursday, the Republican-majority New Hampshire house of representatives voted down a bill that would have raised the legal marriage age to 18. Under current state law, boys as young as 14 and girls as young as 13 can marry with a parent or guardian’s consent and permission from a judge. A handful of U.S. states allow child marriage, leaving doors open for child abuse and human trafficking. In some states, children can only marry people who’ve gotten them pregnant, and child rapists have avoided legal charges by convincing their victims’ parents to consent to their marriage. When Virginia passed a law outlawing such child-pregnancy-marriage last year, Republicans opposed it because they believed underage girls would choose abortions if they weren’t allowed to marry their fetuses’ fathers. In New Hampshire, Republicans opposed and successfully blocked the bill by arguing that it would prevent young soldiers from getting military benefits for their underage partners and “ensure forever that every child born to a minor will be born out of wedlock.” Because that’s the biggest concern for a 13-year-old with an unwanted pregnancy: she’s unmarried!
In the world of abortion restrictions, Georgia lawmakers gave a last round of approval on Thursday to a bill that would require doctors to tell women that they could stop a medical abortion midway through if they changed their minds by taking the first pill but not the second one. A nearly identical bill passed the Utah Senate on Thursday. Anti-abortion activists in several other states are working on similar “abortion reversal” bills. There has been no significant research on whether it’s safe or effective to stop a medical abortion after the first dose, so these bills force doctors to misinform patients and promote an untested procedure—but that apparently is not stopping legislators so far.
Wyoming is seeing a comeback in ‘80s fashions: Governor Matt Mead signed into law on Thursday the state’s first new abortion-related restrictions in nearly three decades. The state now has two new laws on the books that will go into effect in July: One forces doctors to tell patients seeking abortion care that they have the right to see their fetus through an ultrasound before making their final decision. The other bans research on fetal tissue. The Associated Press reports that Wyoming’s last abortion restriction was signed into law in 1989; it required minors to get parental consent for abortions.
The great state of Texas is in the middle of a heated battle over the rights of trans people who have to go to the bathroom, and people who oppose those rights struck a victory this week. A bill that would keep trans people out of public restrooms that don’t match the gender on their respective birth certificates passed a state senate committee on Wednesday, and it’s expected to pass the full state senate, whose agenda is controlled by anti-trans crusader Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. The Texas Association of Business has said that the legislation, if passed, could cost the state $8.5 billion in its gross domestic product and more than 185,000 jobs in one year, just to make trans people unsafe and uncomfortable by making them use the wrong bathroom or avoid using the restroom at all.
Lawmakers also advanced a few expansions in women’s rights this week, starting on Monday, when anti-abortion Republicans in Idaho shed tears as they were forced to advance legislation that would repeal two abortion restrictions from 2015. The laws banned doctors from prescribing abortion medication through the video calls of telemedicine, requiring instead that patients travel for in-person appointments. Planned Parenthood argued in court that the laws presented an undue burden to abortion access in rural Idaho for reasons that had nothing to do with medical safety. The court agreed, and on Monday, Idaho anti-abortion legislators had to undo the obstacle they’d worked so hard to build. No word on whether there were tears in the Hawaii state senate on Tuesday when a committee advanced a bill requiring “crisis pregnancy centers” to provide visitors with information on abortion—but a girl can dream.