On Tuesday, NARAL Pro-Choice America released its annual report, “Who Decides?”, to provide an overview of the status of abortion rights across the country. The group didn’t give the U.S. very high marks. Twenty five states scored a failing grade on NARAL’s reproductive rights report card, giving the country an average score of just a “D.” The new scorecard comes on the heels of a separate report that awarded the U.S. an only slightly more generous “C-” grade on similar measures of reproductive health.
“In 2013, once again, we saw a litany of attacks against reproductive freedom in state legislatures across the country,” the group’s president, Ilyse Hogue, writes in a preface to the report. “In an environment of constant attacks on reproductive freedom, we play a lot of defense.”
The report includes several graphics that clearly illustrate what Hogue is talking about. It’s not hard to see, when examining the political make-up of the country in 2013, how state legislatures were able to pass record-breaking numbers of abortion restrictions:
Choice Positions Of Governors
Pro-Choice And Anti-Choice State Governments
States That Enacted Anti-Choice Measures In 2013
Cumulative Number Of State-Wide Anti-Choice Measures Enacted Since 1995
The recent onslaught of anti-choice laws includes harsh bans on the abortion procedure; stringent regulations on abortion clinics intended to force them to shut down; restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion services; mandatory counseling and ultrasound procedures before women may proceed with an abortion; and deep cuts in state funding for family planning centers.
Fortunately, there are some signs that the tide may begin to turn in 2014. Some state legislatures are finally beginning to take a proactive approach to women’s health, situating issues of reproductive freedom within the larger context of policies that are necessary to ensure gender equality. Hogue points to California, where lawmakers took several steps forward to expand abortion access in 2013, as an important example for the pro-choice community going forward.
“A permanent defensive posture is a losing strategy. You win some battles, you lose others, but you’re only ever ceding ground,” she points out in the report. “[California] should be a model for the entire pro-choice movement. We should be working every day to make it easier and safer for women to obtain abortion care.”