At the very moment when long-standing norms regarding gender, sexuality, and reproduction seem to be breaking down, women in the United States are facing increasingly severe restrictions on and scrutiny of their reproductive decisions. In state after state, legislatures are passing ever more restrictive requirements on abortion and more generally curbing access to reproductive health services. In 2011, states enacted an unprecedented 92 provisions restricting abortions, which overwhelmingly surpassed the previous record of 34 in 2005. From 2011 through 2013, states adopted a total of 205 restrictions. In the previous decade (2001–2010), states passed a total of only 189 restrictions. One recent trend is to require women to undergo ultrasounds and listen to the fetal heartbeat before an abortion. Women also experience heavy surveillance of their decisions in the context of sterilization access. Physicians often turn away childfree women who seek sterilization and question such women’s ability to make reasonable decisions about their futures. At the same time, states have subjected many women in prisons to sterilization procedures without full information or consent.
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