One thing that 2014 has proved so far: this fight isn’t over by a long shot.
The assault on reproductive rights has not abated. State by state, we are facing some of the most aggressive, inhumane anti-choice legislation yet. However, 2014 has also revealed the power of those committed to protecting our reproductive freedom. Outraged and invigorated, the Center for Reproductive Rights and our allies and partners across the country have spent the first half of the year battling proposed extremist policies, as well as fostering proactive legislation to reclaim women’s health and constitutional rights. The Center’s State of the States: 2014 Mid-Year Review chronicles many of these battles.
“From Arizona to Georgia, and many places in between, lawmakers are continuing to spend their time making women’s lives harder instead of addressing the real problems their constituents face,” notes the Center’s Policy and Advocacy Advisor, Kelly Baden. “The kinds of legislation being enacted are threatening to close clinics in entire regions of this country – and could ultimately leave many women without a way to access quality and affordable reproductive health care.”
A prime example of this is in Mississippi, where the state’s last remaining clinic is fighting to stay open. At the same time, legislators—rather than addressing the state’s staggering rates of women in poverty, teen pregnancy, and maternal mortality—have passed a new ban on abortions after 20-weeks of pregnancy.
Already we have seen the introduction of more than 250 anti-choice bills in nearly 40 states during the first half of 2014. The Mid-Year Review examines these new restrictions, focusing on hotspots around the country where women’s reproductive rights have been most significantly eroded. It also highlights a number of the proactive, pro-women’s health measures that have emerged at the state level to counteract such threats.
Remember the Missouri State Representative who compared the decision to end a pregnancy to buying a car or installing carpeting? And the legislation in Tennessee that seeks to send expectant mothers struggling with drug addiction to prison if they have any kind of unfavorable pregnancy outcome? That kind of callousness and absurdity –on top of new state legislation imposing waiting periods, hospital admitting privileges, unreasonable clinic regulations, and restrictions to insurance coverage for abortion care—has the movement pretty fired up.
We were inspired by this spring’s 72-Hour Women’s Filibuster, where advocates took to the Missouri State Capitol and spent three tireless days protesting the legislature’s approval of a mandatory 72-hour waiting period.
We were energized by the words of Republican State Representative Doug Cox from Oklahoma, who— increasingly frustrated with his party’s stance—said, “I’m a physician first . . . I resent the government stepping into that exam room and standing between me and the patient, and standing between the patient and the patient’s choices.”
And we stood with advocates in Louisiana as they led a national effort to stop dangerous and outrageous regulations from being implemented by the state’s Department of Health and Hospitals – regulations that could have forced quality clinics to close their doors, and even institute a 30-day waiting period.
We are encouraged by the veto of intrusive legislation in West Virginia and the movement to repeal abortion restrictions in Vermont and Virginia. We continue to rally behind proactive measures in New York, Colorado, and the state of Washington that seek to promote and defend a woman’s right to reproductive health.
“The good news is that advocates aren’t taking this sitting down,” says Baden. “And some state legislators are fighting back by trying to repeal bad laws and enact new ones to promote reproductive health. The groundswell of support for putting a stop to unnecessary attacks on reproductive rights is growing.