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Key Findings: Pro-Choice Policy

NARAL Pro-Choice America and NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation support a wide range of pro-choice policies that help protect every woman's right to make reproductive choices, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing safe, legal abortion.

As a continuing consequence of the 2010 election, we have seen a dwindling number of states enact pro-choice measures. But, as the effects of anti-choice policies are seen and felt by women and families across the country, public outrage has emboldened some state elected officials to push back. In 2013, hopefully we are witnessing the beginning of a shift, in that twice as many pro-choice measures were enacted this year than last.

Cumulative Number of Pro-Choice Measures Enacted Since 2004*

Chart Showing Cumulative Number of Pro-Choice Measures Enacted Since 2004

* Note: Chart includes only state measures—not local ordinances.

Total Pro-Choice State Measures Enacted in 20131

  • 10 states enacted 16 pro-choice measures in 2013.
  • California enacted more pro-choice legislation than any other state in 2013, with 4 laws.
  • Hawaii enacted a law to guarantee emergency contraception in the emergency room for sexual-assault survivors, making it the third way in which the state ensures broad access to this important medication.

Key Pro-Choice Victories in 2013

  • California enacted a law that allows nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, and physician assistants to provide early abortion care. The law gives women in areas where there are few physician providers the ability to get care from someone they know and trust, near where they live.
  • California also enacted a law making permanent an existing clinic-violence law, which, among other important provisions, requires law-enforcement personnel to be trained in responding to incidents of anti-choice violence at health centers.
  • Colorado enacted a law to fund comprehensive sex-education programs that include medically accurate information about pregnancy prevention and sexually transmitted infections.
  • Illinois enacted a law replacing the state's "abstinence-only" program with a sex-education curriculum that ensures students are given comprehensive, medically accurate information about birth control and prevention of sexually transmitted infections.
  • New Hampshire enacted a law that is the first step in permanently expanding low-income women's access to family-planning services.
  • Vermont enacted another law that promotes healthy childbearing.

Local Pro-Choice Measures

In recent years, local elected officials have taken a number of steps to defend against anti-choice attacks. These include measures to protect reproductive-health centers against clinic harassment and violence, to protect providers who are harassed at their own homes, and ensure women in local communities have access to accurate reproductive-health information.

Local elected officials also have paid special attention to the serious threat crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) pose to women's health. While every woman has the right to select the health-care provider of her choice, CPCs frequently obscure their anti-choice mission and mislead women into thinking they are comprehensive health-care clinics. Local measures enacted before 2013 to address this problem include:

  • A San Francisco, CA ordinance that holds CPCs accountable for false or misleading advertising practices.
  • Ordinances in Austin, TX, Baltimore, MD, Montgomery County, MD, and New York, NY that require CPCs to post signs disclosing the limited nature of their services.

Local Pro-Choice Measures Enacted in 2013

  • Bernalillo County, NM enacted a measure to protect individuals' homes from picketing, aiming to protect the safety of abortion providers.
  • Portland, ME approved a proposal that puts into place a buffer zone around an abortion provider in that city.
  • Dane County, WI passed an ordinance requiring all organizations that contract with the county for reproductive-health services to provide comprehensive and non-directive reproductive-health-care information. This measure will ensure that anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers cannot get county contracts if they lie to or mislead women.

States that Enacted Pro-Choice Measures in 2013

Map of States that Enacted Pro-Choice Measures in 2013

1 This report uses "laws" to refer to statutes adopted by the legislature or enacted by ballot measure. "Measures" is a broader term that includes the following: constitutional provisions, statutes, court decisions, ballot measures, opinions of state attorneys general, state policies, and other governmental action with statewide effect.

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