Abortion, LGBTQ Rights, and More: A Roundup of Controversial Red State Actions

Here’s a look at some of the legislation passed this session, what’s next for the bills, and what else is being considered. The flurry of activity at the state level comes ahead of a highly anticipated US Supreme Court ruling expected later this year that could have major implications for abortion.

Oklahoma — The GOP-controlled Legislature passed an abortion ban on Tuesday, making exceptions only for medical emergencies. It would make performing an abortion or attempting to perform the procedure a felony punishable by up to 10 years in state prison, a $100,000 fine, or both. The legislation does not provide exceptions in cases of rape and incest. Whats Next: Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt is expected to sign the bill into law.
Idaho — Republican Governor Brad Little signed a bill modeled on the Texas law banning abortions after embryonic or fetal heart activity has been detected, making Idaho the first state to follow Texas’ controversial statute allowing citizens to enforce restrictions with lawsuits. Whats Next: Abortion providers are suing and asking the Idaho Supreme Court to strike down the law before it goes into effect on April 22.
Arizona — Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy except in some medical emergencies, becoming the first state this year to enact a ban after 15 weeks, following a similar law Mississippi passed in 2018 that the US Supreme Court appears poised to uphold this year. The bill does not provide exceptions for cases of rape and incest.
Kentucky — The Republican-majority Legislature passed a sweeping bill that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, restrict access to medical abortion and make it more difficult for a minor to obtain an abortion in the state . Whats Next: The bill has been sent to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, though it is unclear how he will act. Beshear could choose to sign the bill or allow the legislation to become law without signing it. However, if he were to veto the bill, Republicans have the majority to easily override it. He has until Monday to act.
South Dakota — Republican Governor Kristi Noem signed legislation March 23 that will further restrict access to medical abortions in the state. The law makes South Dakota one of the most difficult places in the country to obtain abortion medications, requiring pregnant women to make at least three trips to a clinic to obtain abortion medications. The measure, however, will not take effect immediately due to litigation. Whats Next: The law will not take effect unless the judge’s injunction, which the Noem administration is seeking through an appeal, is lifted.

New anti-LGBTQ restrictions and trans youth

Florida — Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation March 28 banning some instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom, passing a controversial measure that opponents have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law. HB 1557, titled the Parents’ Rights in Education Bill, received final approval from the Florida GOP-controlled Legislature last month. Whats Next: Two LGBTQ rights advocacy groups, as well as students, parents and a teacher in Florida, filed a federal lawsuit last Thursday challenging the new law and seeking to block its implementation and enforcement. The law will take effect in July.
Ohio — Two Republican state representatives introduced a bill in the state legislature Monday that would ban the teaching or provision of “any sexual orientation or gender identity curriculum or instructional materials” to students in kindergarten through third grade, using Florida-like language. critics of the law have called it “Don’t Say Gay”. If passed, the measure would also prohibit Ohio public school educators in grades 4 through 12 from teaching or using “instructional materials on sexual orientation or gender identity in any manner that is not age or developmentally appropriate.” of students according to state standards. ” Whats Next: Waiting for votes in the state House.
Texas — The state began investigating families seeking gender-affirming care for their minor transgender children after the state’s Republican Attorney General, Ken Paxton, declared such treatment “child abuse.” Republican Gov. Greg Abbott directed the Department of Family and Protective Services to begin investigations. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of the parents of a transgender girl, and an appeals court upheld a temporary injunction blocking the action. Whats Next: Paxton has asked the state Supreme Court to intervene to allow child abuse investigations.
Arizona — Ducey signed into law two bills targeting transgender youth in the state, barring trans girls and women from competing on girls’ and women’s sports teams and restricting youth access to gender-affirming care. Whats Next: The ACLU has promised to sue to block the law restricting gender-affirming care.
Oklahoma — Stitt signed legislation that prohibits transgender women and girls from competing on gender-appropriate sports teams in public schools, public charter schools and public universities in the state.
Iowa — Republican Governor Kim Reynolds signed a law that bars transgender women and girls from participating in gender-appropriate sports teams at accredited schools and colleges.

South Dakota — Noem signed a law that prohibits transgender women and girls from competing on gender-appropriate sports teams at accredited schools and colleges.

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New anti-critical actions of racial theory

South Dakota — Noem signed an executive order Tuesday restricting the teaching of critical race theory in K-12 schools after the state Senate Education Committee struck down a bill that would have achieved a similar goal. Noem also signed legislation this session blocking mandatory critical race theory trainings and orientations at state universities.
Ohio — A bill introduced Friday that mirrors a Florida law that critics have dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” would also ban curriculum for all grades that teaches, promotes or endorses what it calls “divisive or inherently racist concepts.” “. I would ban any textbook, teaching material, or academic curriculum that “promotes” concepts like critical race theory; intersectional theory; The 1619 Project; inherited racial guilt; diversity, equity and inclusion learning outcomes; inherited racial guilt; or “any other concept that the state board of education defines as divisive or inherently racist.” Whats Next: The bill awaits a vote in the state House.

New ‘electoral police’ forces

Florida — The Republican-controlled Florida House of Representatives has passed an election reform bill that would create a security bureau to investigate election crimes and increase penalties for violating the state’s election laws. The legislation would establish a scaled-down version of an election police force first proposed last year by DeSantis. Whats Next: Invoice will be sent to DeSantis desk for signature.
Georgia — State lawmakers approved a bill on its last day of session Monday that would give new election policing powers to the state’s bureau of investigation, becoming the second state after Florida to pass a police force bill election this year as Republicans continue to falsely claim the 2020 election was riddled with voter fraud. Whats Next: The bill awaits the signature of Republican Governor Brian Kemp. He has 40 days to sign the legislation or veto it.
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