The far left organization Netroots Nation held its annual conference last week in Minnesota, and one of the breakout panels was “Protecting reproductive rights in your state.”

The entire 1+ hour discussion is interesting, linked above. It’s always helpful to see what the other side is thinking.

For this post I want to focus on the insights of Elizabeth Nash (pictured right), Public Policy Associate at Guttmacher Institute.

Nash gave an overview of pro-life legislative victories this year, answering her own question, “How bad is it this year?” with “It’s really bad” and “It sucks out there.”

Of course, that’s good news for our side.

Nash reported that 76 abortion restrictions have passed in the states so far in 2011, more than double any in the past. The highest number of pro-life bills passed previous to 2011 was 34 in 2005.

Nash reiterated, “This is the worst year ever,” reminding the audience that it isn’t over, because there are still states with open sessions and pro-life bills in play, namely Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

The 2nd part of Nash’s report was on the uptick of family planning funding restrictions.

Nash reported measures have been introduced in 11 states to limit or cut off family planning groups, i.e., Planned Parenthood, from receiving any state or family planning funds. While such “attacks” have been attempted for 30 years, Nash said, “what is new is the volume and the breadth.”

Why? In part Nash thought abortion “attacks” have synergized attempts to restrict family planning funding. She also thought “what happened at the federal level with the budget fight in April to keep Planned Parenthood out of the Title X program” increased state interest.

So rest assured your efforts to defund Planned Parenthood were not in vain. Planned Parenthood may have won a battle, but it most certainly did not win the war.

We’ve discussed here previously the perfect storm created by numerous state and federal Republican victories in the 2010 elections, various budget crises, and the latest Live Action video sting, all combining to decimate Planned Parenthood. Those storms are still stirring.

Nash explained family planning funds are distributed 3 ways: via state funds, federal bloc grants, or Title X funds allocated to states to disperse. To that end, the successes pro-lifers have seen this year are:

  • Indiana: Law passed to prohibit the state from contracting with an abortion provider except hospital or ambulatory surgical center. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU are challenging the law. But it’s in effect unless and until a judge says it is not.
  • North Carolina: The legislature just overrode the governor’s budget veto, making it the 1st state this year that specifically bans contracting or giving funds to Planned Parenthood. No court challenge yet.
  • Kansas: Law passed prohibiting family planning providers from accessing Title X funds through the state.
  • Tennessee: Similar legislation to Kansas’ failed, but the governor is trying to enact it administratively.
  • Wisconsin: In play is legislation to prohibit any abortion provider or anyone who refers to abortion from  accessing state family planning dollars.
  • Texas: In play is legislation that would establish a priority system for state family planning dollars, with family planning providers at the bottom of list.

Not mentioned was New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie cut $7.5 million in state family planning funding last spring.

I want to close this post with an observation made by a pro-abortion activist at the end of the session (1:02) that I found encouraging and hope you do, too:

I’ve been in this fight both paid and volunteer for over a decade, and it’s only getting worse.  And while I hear you, that we need to engage everybody and bring everybody to the table, I feel like we’ve doing that – for decades – and it’s only getting worse. And part two of that question, how as progressives do we address when the sh** is falling everywhere?

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