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January 19, 2012

New Report Shows State-Level Attacks on Choice Skyrocketed in 2011; Analysis Shows 2012 Could Be Even Worse for Women’s Freedom and Privacy

Agenda that opens door to more political interference in women’s personal, private decisions out of touch with nation’s values and priorities

Washington, D.C.—Today NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation released the 21st edition of Who Decides? The Status of Women’s Reproductive Rights in the United States, the nation’s most comprehensive report on choice-related laws. The report shows that states enacted more than twice as many anti-choice measures in 2011 as the previous year, and the legislative landscape could open the door to even more attacks in 2012.

“The findings in this report should spur every American who values freedom and privacy into action,” Keenan said. “Last year, we predicted that our opponents would ignore the public’s call to focus on the nation’s immediate challenges, such as the economy. Sadly for women, our predictions came true at near-record levels. Lawmakers waged a War on Women, and as a result, women in many states will see more political interference in their personal, private medical decisions. In some cases, women could lose access to reproductive-health services they currently have.”

Keenan said 26 states enacted 69 anti-choice measures in 2011, the second-highest number since the organization started tracking such data in 1995. The record is 70, set in 1999. Since 1995, states have enacted 713 anti-choice measures.

Keenan said two pro-choice governors, Mark Dayton of Minnesota (D) and Brian Schweitzer of Montana (D), vetoed anti-choice bills and kept 2011 from breaking the record for state-level attacks. NARAL Pro-Choice America dedicated the publication to these gubernatorial champions.

The outcome was quite different in other states. For instance, while former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas (D) vetoed eight anti-choice bills over the course of her tenure, her successor, Gov. Sam Brownback (R), signed five anti-choice bills into law in his first year in office. Kansas tied with Arizona and Florida for enacting the most anti-choice measures this year.

“An elected official’s position on choice matters,” Keenan said. “A governor can be either a firewall to protect a woman’s right to choose or the person who signs away women’s freedom and privacy.”

Keenan also said that 2012 could be even worse for women’s reproductive rights. The organization’s analysis of state government shows that 44 states are under anti- or mixed-choice control. In these situations, there is either no way to stop anti-choice bills like abortion-coverage bans or proposals to de-fund family-planning programs, or a governor’s veto is at risk of being overridden. So as devastating as last year’s legislative session was for anti-choice proposals, given this legislative climate across states, next year could be even worse.

Overview of State Action in 2011 and Outlook for 2012

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