Since 2010, 32 states have restricted abortions

Pro-choice protesters outside the White House in an undated photo
CBS News

(CBS News) While the national GOP is trying to tamp down the abortion issue after Mo. Rep. Todd Akin's controversial comments, it's growing on the local level.

Americans have been divided over the issue of abortion since the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade almost 40 years ago, and at the state level the debate is louder than ever.

In the past two years alone, 32 states have adopted some form of abortion restriction.

The Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights, tracks legislation. Elizabeth Nash, its state issues manager, said: "Since the November 2010 elections, we have just seen a huge tidal wave of abortion restrictions roll across states."

In the first six months of 2012, 15 states passed 39 restrictions on abortion. Last year, 24 states passed 92 restrictions, an all-time record.

Restrictions include bans on abortions at 20 weeks; 24- to 72-hour waiting periods; and a requirement to inform women of suicide risks if they seek an abortion.

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The success of state restrictions may be the result of changing public opinion on abortion.

On the abortion issue, a recent Gallup poll asked: "Would you consider yourself to be pro-choice or pro-life." Fifty percent of Americans now call themselves "pro-life." Fourty-one percent call themselves "pro-choice," a record low.

It's also due to an active campaign by anti-abortion forces.

"We have been able to enact legislation in eight states to protect unborn children at 20 weeks or more who are experiencing pain in abortion," said Susan Musket with the National Right to Life Committee.

They're not just active in legislatures. More than a dozen anti-abortion cases are pending in state courts.

This week a Texas court ruled that the state could withhold family planning funds from Planned Parenthood, whose medical services include abortions.

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.