Today, Jan. 22, marks the 42nd anniversary of the landmark case, Roe V. Wade. This year’s commemoration comes at a time all eyes are, and have been, on the (some would say disgraceful) state of reproductive rights.

From 2011 to 2013, a research report from the Center of Reproductive Rights (CRR) and Ibis Reproductive Health (IRH) cited “states enacted 205 new restrictions on abortion, more than were enacted in the entire previous decade.” In 2014 alone, 250 bills restricting abortion were introduced in nearly 40 states, in addition to a record number of abortion clinics shuttering their doors. And across the board in 2015, the first or second bill states propose are more or less an attack on abortion access. Though many of these laws have merely been proposed, others argued and few passed, they’re still on the table.

Anti-choice legislation claims to benefit women’s reproductive health when studies and surveys suggest otherwise. To refer back to the CRR and IBH report, there data showed an "inverse relationship between a state’s number of abortion restrictions and a state’s number of evidence-based policies that support women’s and children’s well-being" (something we previously examined here). What’s worse is the anti-choice legislation is evolving; it’s becoming more aggressive, and to be honest, just plain ridiculous.

Here’s a look at the more ridiculous laws we’ve heard of, though there are plenty more we haven't included.


Texas has all but led the anti-choice legislation these past couple years. Their HB2 law (currently being argued) introduced four new anti-choice components, in addition to a law they passed in 2011 that would require women to have an ultrasound 24 to 72 hours before their procedure. The Daily Beast reported “the technician would have to offer the woman a chance to view the ultrasound and if she should decline, the technician must describe the fetus, including its dimensions, arms and legs, and internal organs…the heartbeat must be made audible and the technician must describe it.” According to the Guttmacher Institute, ultrasounds for pregnancies ended during the first trimester are medically unnecessary.

“HB2 is a perfect example of the types of laws we’ve seen recently disguised of being protective of women,” Amanda Allen, state legislative counsel for the CRR, told Medical Daily.

While HB2 would make it difficult for women to access safe reproductive care, closing more than half of abortion clinics, Texas State representative Jodie Laubenberg (also author of HB2) said she was “proud of the step we’ve taken to protect both babies and women.”

Fetus Lawyers

This past election cycle, North Dakota and Colorado has tried to “really endowed fertilized eggs with constitutional rights,” Allen said. “They’ve failed when they’ve been brought up, but that’s a really extreme example of [the type of legislation politicians are proposing].

Alabama in particular has been in the spotlight following a segment The Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams, who TIME named one of the 12 black leaders making a difference in America, conducted with an Alabama attorney. She said it best when she said, “You have a crazy-a** job, sir.”

“This has been one of the most offensive and extreme laws past in recent years,” Allen said. “If a teen feels they can’t involve their parents to terminate a pregnancy, the state says you have to get an order from the judge. A lawyer can represent the fetus and the judge can call in a teen’s parents, teacher, boss, pastor, boyfriend, and friend.”

72-Hour Waiting Period

In South Dakota, legislation enacted a 72-hour waiting period that required women to wait as long before consulting a facility for care. But even after the waiting period, women would be required to first visit an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center without a court order to block this outrageous requirement.

“It’s only purpose it to shame women, and it’s appalling,” Allen said.

This law has been amended to exclude weekends and holidays from this waiting period. ThinkProgress “some women may be forced to wait up to six days if they seek an abortion before a three-day weekend.” Should women still want to see an abortion through, they would have to devote a second day to receiving actual care.

“The idea is embedded that women need to think long and hard about their decision; the state doesn’t approve,” Allen said.

Similarly, Louisiana has tried to impose a 30-day waiting period. Luckily, activisits really stood up and spoke out about this requirement and legislation backed out.

Heartbeat Vs. Viability

Just last week, Allen said, the eighth circuit court heard arguments for two of the most extreme abortion laws that have passed recently: one, a six-week abortion ban in North Dakota and the other a 12-week abortion ban in Arkansas. So basically, women can't get an abortion after these time periods. In the case of North Dakota, some women don’t even know they’re pregnant until after six weeks.

The Huffington Post cited “previous court decisions that said abortions shouldn't be restricted until after a fetus reaches viability, which is typically at 22 to 24 weeks.”

Abortion As A Felony

If medical professionals terminate a woman's pregnancy because of the fetus’ sex or potential disability, Indiana state senator Travis Holdman would like them to be charged with felony.

According to The Daily Beast, the “diseases, defects, and disabilities” rule would apply to mental disability or retardation, physical disfigurement, scoliosis, dwarfism, and Down syndrome.

Spousal Consent

“This hasn’t passed, but a Missouri politician proposed women be required to get consent from her spouse or the “father” of their unborn child; this is blatantly unconstitutional,” Allen said. “It’s an affront to woman’s dignity and autonomy.”

Will Roe V. Wade Be Overturned?

There are two themes when it comes to anti-abortion legislation, Allen said: sham laws, like HB2, that chip away at reproductive rights and disguise legislator’s true motives. The other is along the lines of the heartbeat vs. viability. While none have been successful, legislators are aiming to redefine who is a person and who has constitutional rights.

Interestingly enough, Allen, CRR, IBH, and other advocates for reproductive rights are quick to emphasize these laws are in fact passed by legislators, not by those in the medical community or individual physicians, just “politicians with an agenda.” While Allen agrees the state of reproductive rights today challenges Roe v. Wade and the constitutional tenants we’ve been living with 42 years, she believes the constitution is on abortion’s side. And the truth is, seven out of 10 Americans still support Roe and don't want to see the law overturned.

"The constitution clearly protects a woman’s right to choose an abortion; this has been the case for over four decades and will remain the case," Allen said. Medical experts have said time and time again abortion is a safe procedure despite sham laws suggesting otherwise," Allen said. "All of these laws are not based on medical reality."

This article originally incorrectly stated that Oklahoma tried to endow fertilized eggs with constitutional rights. The attempt is being made by Colorado.