Protect, Defend, Extend: State of the States 2018

In 2018, state legislatures continued their unrelenting attack on abortion access—our report examines those tactics, as well as how advocates are fighting back


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Opponents of abortion rights in state legislatures across the country continued to obstruct abortion access in 2018, introducing nearly 200 bills and enacting 44 new restrictions abridging access to vital reproductive health care services. Protect, Defend, Extend: State of the States 2018 provides an overview of major legislative trends, including an increased number of bans on abortion earlier and earlier in pregnancy as well as a continued strategy of banning abortion method by method.

In 2018, abortion opponents focused their efforts on passing unconstitutional laws that:

  • Ban abortion before viability
  • Ban the preferred standard of care for abortion past 14 weeks
  • Ban abortion when a genetic anomaly is detected

Yet not all state legislatures worked to restrict women’s rights. In response to this increasingly hostile environment, lawmakers across the country introduced measures intended to protect or advance reproductive health and rights, including laws that:

  • Ensure insurance coverage for reproductive health care, including contraception and abortion care
  • Remove barriers to abortion access
  • Ensure access to reproductive health care for people who are incarcerated
  • Repeal unconstitutional abortion restrictions
  • Codify the legal right to abortion in state law

Challenges to state-level abortion restrictions are currently pending in federal courts across the country—some of which could make their way to the United States Supreme Court. Whether and how the Court decides to rule on these laws will impact the future of abortion jurisprudence and the lived experiences of millions of women across the country. Now, more than ever, states must redouble their efforts to pass laws guaranteeing that a pregnant person who has made the decision to end a pregnancy can access safe, respectful care in the state in which they live. Read the full report here.