2014 was a monumental year for attacks on reproductive rights. Anti-choice state legislators led the pack, enacting 27 anti-choice measures—from outright abortion bans to mandatory waiting periods. But it wasn't just anti-choice-dominated state legislatures that worked actively to block reproductive freedom this year. Courts also continue to play a significant role in deciding the fates of women.
This year, the Supreme Court struck down a law protecting patients and health-care providers entering abortion clinics. The court also sided with corporations in saying their employees need their bosses' permission to get birth-control coverage in their insurance plans. All across the country, people are waking up to a new reality shaped by anti-choice politicians and ideologically motivated judges and justices who believe they know better than women, our families, and our doctors about what's best for us.
And across massive swaths of America, especially in the South, women's health clinics are closing as punitive, politically motivated laws targeting abortion facilities take effect. These TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion providers) laws, include requirements like dictating the size of a janitor's closet, the number of parking spaces, or whether there's grass outside the health center. For too many women, the reality of getting abortion services now includes traveling hundreds of miles, taking time off work, making multiple visits to a doctor, and finding child care, all while coming up with the money to cover transportation and lodging.
Laws requiring waiting periods, forced ultrasounds, and medically inaccurate lectures prior to receiving abortion services put more roadblocks between women and the care they need. What's more, they send a message to women that we are somehow incapable of making these decisions on our own and that we need politicians to tell us what to do with our own bodies.
While the overall picture for women may look bleak, there is a silver lining. One consequence of these anti-choice trends is a growing and vocal backlash against these assaults and the legislators who promote them. Polling consistently shows—including research NARAL Pro-Choice America conducted this summer—that seven out of 10 registered voters believe abortion should be legal. This number crosses generational, ethnic, geographic, and even partisan boundaries.
As the anti-choice movement tries to impose its agenda, we are starting to see a shift in the momentum. Just one indication includes political candidates across the ideological spectrum reassuring voters that they will protect women's rights—even when it contradicts their records. As this trend grows, we will see the results not just in elections but in law, including proactive legislation that not only protects a woman's right to legal abortion, but expands it.
As always, Who Decides? is a critical tool for anyone who wants to make a difference in the fight for our rights. I find in my own work as president that I constantly keep this book close at hand. I hope you will too, and that it helps you in our shared goal to ensure that women everywhere have both the rights and the resources to have the lives and families they choose.