Proof Reproductive Rights Are Severely Endangered

by Megan Grant
Tim Boyle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Reproductive rights continue to be an arena of debate in this country; and the 26th annual Who Decides? report from NARAL shows just how endangered reproductive rights are in the United States right now. NARAL, a pro-choice organization, releases the report every year, looking at both legislation and state and federal court rulings on reproductive rights all over the nation. They rate each state individually on a scale from "total access" to reproductive healthcare to "severely restricted access," and then rate the country as a whole. Their recent findings don't paint a perfect picture; in fact, President Ilyse Hogue told Cosmo, "The state of the reproductive union continues to get bleaker and bleaker," adding that with the upcoming administration, "we could possibly be facing a public healthcare crisis in this country."

The overall perspective is a sad one: Our access to reproductive care is "more threatened now than at any time since the passage of Roe v. Wade," Hogue said.

There is, at the very least, some good news. For example, several states made progress by increasing the number of healthcare professionals that can provide abortions, protecting patients and workers from harassments, giving greater access to birth control, and making abortion more accessible to low-income people.

No state in this country was rated with a "total access" label; however, California, Connecticut, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii all fell under "strongly protected." Overall, 16 states and the District of Colombia passed 30 pro-choice measures last year.

Why, then, did our country as a whole get rated as "restricted access" in NARAL's annual report? These facts directly from the report itself paint the full picture — and it's a disturbing one indeed.


26 States Have "Severely Restricted Access"

That's right. More than half of this country has severely restricted access to reproductive healthcare, thanks to factors like abortion bans and absurd requirements placed on clinics that end up stopping them from being able to provide abortions at all. Included in these states are Kansas, Kentucky, and North and South Dakota (where 98 percent of the counties don't have even one abortion clinic), and Mississippi (where 99 percent don't have a single clinic!).

Repeat: That means virtually zero access to safe abortions for people who might need them.


26 States Recently Passed 56 Anti-Choice Measures

Louisiana was the worst, with seven measures of its own. Combined with Mississippi and South Dakota, these three states made up almost one-third of anti-choice laws passed in the U.S. in 2016.


The Cumulative Number Of Statewide Anti-Choice Measures Enacted Has Increased Every Year Since 1995


Our Lawmakers Are Tipping In Favor Of Anti-Choice

Donald Trump and Mike Pence are both anti-choice. 30 governors are anti-choice. Seven governors are mixed. Only 13 governors are pro-choice. In the Senate, 53 senators are anti-choice (compared to 40 pro-choice); and in the House, 243 members are anti-choice (compared to 176 pro-choice). Those who are pro-choice are consistently outnumbered across the board, including in state legislatures (nine states to 32 states), state senates (nine to 33), and state houses (13 to 31). Bear in mind, too, that this is despite the fact that most Americans do not want to overturn Roe. v. Wade, according to a recent Pew study.


Some Anti-Choice Laws Have Already Been Deemed Unconstitutional

33 states have laws requiring people who want abortions to receive biased counseling and/or mandatory delays. Of these, six of them have been found to have totally or partially unconstitutional laws.


21 States Prohibit Abortion Counseling And/Or Referrals

One of these state prohibitions (North Dakota) has been found partially unconstitutional.


27 States Have Measures Supporting Crisis Pregnancy Centers

This sounds positive, but it's anything but. CPCs are fake clinics that lure women inside (sometimes with false advertising) and purposely misinform them in an attempt to stop them from exercising their right to choose. Only two states have measures opposing these malicious CPCs.


Low-Income People Are At A Continued Disadvantage

32 states and the District of Colombia almost always restrict access to abortion for low-income people. (The exceptions are life endangerment, rape, and incest.)