The abortion laws you don't hear about

Anti-abortion, left, and abortion rights advocates face off this month outside the U.S. Supreme Court.

Story highlights

  • Nearly 250 anti-abortion measures are pending in state legislative sessions
  • Abortion rights lawmakers not keeping pace with those pushing Roe v. Wade's reversal
  • A new playbook, offering model legislation on abortion rights side, aims to change equation

(CNN)It's no secret that states have railed against abortion access in the years since 1973, when Roe v. Wade legalized the procedure in America. Nearly 900 bills restricting abortions have passed in the past 20 years alone, according to the nation's oldest abortion rights group.

Last year, states enacted dozens of new laws, including one in Texas that forced clinic closures across the state. A case challenging that law is now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.
What's less known, though, is a similar state-by-state effort by abortion rights advocates to strengthen access to abortion services and birth control.
    Partly that's a result of the numbers: Judged strictly by the volume of bills introduced in state legislatures, the abortion rights movement simply hasn't kept pace with efforts to chip away at Roe v. Wade.
    In this current legislative session, nearly 250 anti-abortion measures are in the mix in more than three dozen states -- twice the number of pending abortion rights bills, according to the Public Leadership Institute, a nonprofit that supports abortion rights.
    Counting only those reproductive rights bills that deal directly with abortion -- as opposed to contraception, for example -- there are about four times as many anti-abortion measures.
    Some would ban abortions after the first trimester, while others seek to get rid of them altogether. One measure would remove the buffer zones between protesters and patients outside clinics. There are bills to prohibit charitable donations to abortion providers, and others that require the distribution of medically disputed information.
    In 2015 alone, 41 anti-abortion measures were enacted in 22 states, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America. Seven of those measures passed in a single state: Arkansas.

    A new playbook

    Part of what has driven the proliferation of anti-abortion legislation is a playbook put out by Americans United for Life. "Defending Life," first published in 2006, includes model legislation that state lawmakers cut, paste and use.
    This tactic has resulted in legislation requiring delays and state-mandated counseling. Bans on funding and referrals. Regulations that prompt clinic closures -- and result in "abortion deserts" in places such as Texas.