Engaging Policymakers in the States: Key Areas of the Center's Work

The Center focuses on the following key issues in our state advocacy work:

FREEDOM OF CHOICE ACTS IN THE STATES

The Center supports "Freedom of Choice Acts," which can be advanced by state advocates to affirmatively protect abortion rights. These laws generally codify the protections of Roe v. Wade, by prohibiting government interference with a woman's decision to have an abortion prior to viability, and after viability if the abortion is necessary to preserve a woman's life or health. These laws ensure that women in states where Freedom of Choice Acts have been enacted will continue to have access to abortion, even if the federal courts further undermine constitutional protection for reproductive rights.

ACCESS TO CONTRACEPTION

The Center supports advocacy efforts to increase meaningful access to contraception. These laws and policies can (a) remove financial barriers, public education limits, and other impediments that make contraception difficult to obtain for certain women; (b) require emergency rooms to inform sexual assault survivors about emergency contraception; (c) mandate insurance coverage for prescription contraception (contraceptive equity laws); and (d) increase access to contraception and family planning services in publicly funded health programs. Such proactive measures help to reduce unintended pregnancy, allow women and their families to decide when and whether to have children, and protect women's health, dignity and autonomy.

CLINIC SAFETY AND ACCESS ZONES

The Center supports legislation that creates safety zones around the entrances to reproductive health clinics (known as "buffer zones") or around individuals entering those clinics ("bubble zones"). These laws, which are important tools in curbing clinic violence and protecting women's access to services, shield patients, their accompanying family members and friends, and reproductive health care workers from harassment and threats by anti-abortion activists at clinics.

ABORTION BANS AND METHOD BANS

The Center strenuously opposes abortion bans and laws criminalizing the use of particular abortion methods or techniques. The most extreme forms of these laws seek to ban abortion outright, at all gestational ages, with very few exceptions. Other ban legislation attacks certain abortion methods, such as laws that mirror the federal "partial birth" abortion ban, and can take away physicians' ability to place women's health first in performing abortion procedures. These radical anti-choice measures are dangerous and jeopardize women's health and lives.

MANDATORY DELAY, INTRUSIVE COUNSELING AND SCARE TACTICS

The Center opposes the passage of laws that are designed to discourage women from having abortions by imposing biased, intrusive counseling requirements and compulsory waiting periods for women seeking abortions. The mandatory counseling requirements may include false and misleading information intended to scare women seeking abortions, dictate state-written scripts to abortion providers, and force women to delay their abortion procedures. These laws reflect some lawmakers' belief that women cannot be trusted to make abortion decisions.

YOUNG WOMEN’S ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE

The Center opposes laws that impose barriers on young women seeking confidential reproductive health care, such as forced parental involvement laws requiring parental notification or consent before a teen can obtain an abortion. These laws harm young women by increasing the risk of physical and emotional abuse, interfering with access to confidential medical care, creating delays in access to medical care, and imposing forced teen motherhood.

FUNDING ROADBLOCKS AND CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTERS

The Center opposes state laws that impose barriers to abortion access by prohibiting abortion funding for low income women or by preventing public facilities from performing abortions. We also oppose state efforts to cut funding for family planning services, or to funnel money intended for low-income women's health services to Crisis Pregnancy Centers or other organizations that explicitly omit abortion counseling from the counseling they provide. As a result of funding limits, low-income women and women with financial barriers have extreme difficulty in accessing abortion and other reproductive health care services.

TARGETED REGULATIONS OF ABORTION PROVIDERS

The Center actively opposes restrictive Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers (or "TRAP") laws, which regulate the medical practices of abortion providers. These laws may take the form of licensing or physical plant requirements for clinics, admitting privileges or specialty training requirements for physicians, or other administrative requirements similar to those imposed on facilities performing much more complex procedures. These laws, which are far more stringent than the requirements applied to comparable medical practices, impose burdens on abortion providers that make it more difficult and costly to provide abortions, and can reduce access to abortion.

PREGNANT WOMEN'S RIGHTS AND FETAL RIGHTS

The Center opposes bills that are intended to chip away at abortion rights by creating independent fetal rights or bills that put women's health at risk by criminalizing certain behaviors while pregnant. "Fetal homicide" bills or "Unborn Victims of Violence" acts, criminalize actions taken against a pregnant woman and/or her fetus, and may create criminal penalties for certain behaviors of pregnant women during pregnancy, such as substance abuse. Other bills take the form of "fetal personhood" measures, which grant constitutional and statutory rights to fetuses, sometimes even from the moment of fertilization. These bills are intended to elevate the status of the fetus and challenge abortion rights, can be used to prosecute abortion and reproductive health care providers for their actions. One such proposal was put forward as a proposed state constitutional amendment in Colorado – although the idea was soundly rejected by voters in 2008, it will be on the ballot again in 2010.