5 Absolutely Ridiculous State Abortion Laws, Explained

Forty-two years after Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the US, people across the country hoping to terminate their pregnancies are finding this constitutional right harder and harder to obtain.That’s because lawmakers are constantly introducing new bills that both sneakily and creatively aim to restrict abortion access. In 2014 alone, 335 provisions were put forward, some of which were downright ridiculous—even laughable—if it wasn’t for the grave threat they pose to our reproductive health. And now, with republicans as the Senate majority, we can undoubtedly expect the introduction of even more bills that severely limit abortion access.

Missouri has already proposed a measure that would require abortion-seekers to show "written, notarized consent" of an unborn fetus' father, while Sen. Ed Lucio of Texas has promised to introduce a bill that would force women to participate in an hourlong adoption seminar before having an abortion. Beyond challenging our reproductive rights and health, these measures are downright weird and unnecessary. Unfortunately, if passed, they’d accompany outrageous abortion laws that currently stand in states across the country. Here are just five examples of these ridiculous laws.

PLUS: A look at Latin America's harshest abortion laws

1. Attorneys can represent unborn fetuses.

In Alabama, if a pregnant minor wants to have an abortion but doesn’t have their parents’ consent, they can go before a court to bypass the rule, either by successfully arguing that they’ve been raped or that they are mature enough to make their own medical decisions. Today, however, the fetuses of pregnant Alabama teenagers have court-appointed lawyers representing them, so trials—with witnesses and “supporting evidence”—can ensue. What’s more, there can be a months-long appeals process, preventing minors from even obtaining the abortion.

2. Doctors risk losing their medical licenses if they can’t name the person who knocked up their patient.

In Indiana, physicians performing abortion procedures must fill out a comprehensive terminated pregnancy report. The records, which the state says are essential for statistical purposes, asks for information like date and type of termination procedure. OK, cool. But some other questions seem just as expendable as they are burdensome and completely ridiculous: Date and number of prior abortions? (Are you going to throw rocks at me if my number isn’t zero?) Sperm donor’s name? (what if I, the patient, don’t even know that information?)

But as nonessential as this information is to the state, Indiana physicians like Ulrich “George” Klopfer know firsthand that not complying with this absurdity is actually taken pretty seriously. In 2014, Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed administrative licensing complaints with the Indiana Medical Licensing Board against Klopfer, asking the board to consider appropriate disciplinary action against his medical license for violations like—wait for it—failing to note a father's name and age and not recording a patient's last period. Yes, a true villain. (Please note the sarcasm.)

3. Teachers have to lie to middle schoolers about the correlation between abortions and future miscarriages.

Thanks to a comprehensive sex education law instituted in 2013, North Carolina’s seventh-grade educators have to teach a pretty significant reproductive health lie. The law requires middle-schoolers to learn that abortions increase the risk of preterm birth and miscarriages in subsequent pregnancies, a class lesson with no scientific basis.

4. You can only think of your reproductive health during the workweek.

State laws mandating waiting periods for abortion care are popping up across the country. The goal: Patients will change their minds with just a little more time to think. But despite studies showing that waiting periods aren't exactly effective (who knew that the majority of people seeking abortions have already thought through their decision?) South Dakota found a way to give you even more time to think, outside of their already-instituted 72-hour waiting period.

Apparently, you can’t think during the weekends or holidays, so these days are now excluded from South Dakota’s 72-hour ban, meaning if you decided to get an abortion on a Friday, you now have to wait 120 hours. Thanks, South Dakota, for reminding us all that we can’t and shouldn’t have to worry about our health care until the workweek, when we no longer have free time and are back to fretting over class exams or work deadlines. You clearly do have our best interest at heart!

5. Unable to pop a pill solo, pregnant people are required to have doctors present for drug-induced abortions.

Taking an abortion pill, a legal and safe way to terminate an early pregnancy, doesn’t necessitate a physician's presence. But that hasn't stopped states like Missouri, Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan and others from requiring doctors to be present for an entire drug-induced abortion. The law, which doesn’t make the procedure any more secure or unchallenging, does have one major impact: It makes access to early-term abortions more arduous and expensive for rural residents who live far from an abortion provider.