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Publications

States Report

Our annual report, Who Decides? The Status of Women's Reproductive Rights in the United States, takes a look at choice-related laws in each state and the federal government.


Congressional Record on Choice

How did your members of Congress vote on issues related to reproductive freedom in 2015?


The Powers of the President

This report documents the powers of the president over reproductive freedom and choice.


Fact Sheets

Our fact sheets are great resources for reporters, students, and academics. Anyone who needs detailed information on choice-related issues should check them out. All fact sheets are PDF files.

Abortion

Abortion Bans at 20 Weeks: A Dangerous Restriction for Women

In 2010, Nebraska passed a law banning abortion care after 20 weeks, under the auspices of concern about fetal pain. Since then, anti-choice advocates have fueled the trend: 12 additional states—Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas—have enacted similar bans. (In 201, West Virginia's governor, Ray Tomblin (D), became the first (and only) state executive to veto a ban.) The National Right to Life Committee has designated these bans as a top legislative priority.

Abortion Bans Endanger Women’s Health

Roe v. Wade stands as a milestone to women’s freedom and equality, and one of its most fundamental tenets is that a woman’s health must always be protected. Yet 40 years after the Supreme Court recognized the right to choose and the vital importance of women’s health, attacks on women’s privacy, and on health protections in particular, continue. Time after time, anti-choice lawmakers vote down proposed health exceptions to abortion restrictions, and prominent anti-choice leaders openly state their opposition to protecting women’s health.

Abortion Coverage for Women Enrolled in FEHB Program

The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program provides health insurance to civilian federal employees. Operated by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the FEHB program is a network of private insurance plans that covers more than eight million federal employees, their dependents, and retirees. It was created by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act of 1959 (FEHB Act) and has been in effect since 1960. The FEHB Act authorizes OPM to contract with qualified carriers to provide health-benefits plans to federal employees.

Abortion Coverage for Women in the Military

Women play a vital role in the U.S. military and currently constitute 16 percent of all active-duty and reserve members of the armed forces. Every day, more women enlist to fight for our country as gender barriers in the military are removed. Yet for years, anti-choice lawmakers have blocked TRICARE, the military health-insurance plan, from covering abortion care in nearly all circumstances.

Anti-Choice Violence and Intimidation

A campaign of violence, vandalism, and intimidation is endangering providers and patients and curtailing the availability of abortion services.

Attacks on Private Insurance Coverage of Abortion

All women should have access to abortion care regardless of their zip code, employer, or health-insurance plan. However, some insurers are prohibited from including coverage of abortion services in their health plans. Unable to ban abortion outright, anti-choice politicians and activists have worked to make abortion inaccessible to as many women as possible by banning insurance coverage for the procedure.

Bans on Abortion Coverage in Government-Run Health-Care Programs

For four decades, unable to make abortion illegal again, anti-choice legislators have tried to make the procedure nearly impossible for women to obtain. One of their most aggressive tactics has been to put abortion services financially out of reach for as many women as possible by banning insurance coverage of abortion services in government health-care programs. The result is that federal funding of abortion care is prohibited in most cases – some bans do not have any exceptions, while others have exceptions for the life of the woman, rape, or incest.

Congress Should Not Legitimize the Mythical "Post-Abortion Syndrome"

Anti-choice activists have long hoped to find scientific support for their claims that abortion causes a range of negative effects on women who choose this reproductive option – from increased rates of breast cancer to higher rates of depression, even to a supposed “link” with alcoholism. Anti-choice lawmakers have focused especially on trying to pursue the existence of “post-abortion syndrome,” a supposed psychological phenomenon that has never been shown to exist by any legitimate scientific or medical study. In fact, these claims have been disproven by a long line of credible, scientific research.

Current Refusal Laws

Refusal clauses can permit a broad range of individuals and institutions—including hospitals, hospital employees, health-care providers, and insurers—to refuse to provide, pay for, counsel about, or even refer for medical treatment. Following is a summary of refusal clauses in current federal law, followed by the text of the laws.

Defunding Laws Would Devastate State's Family-Planning Systems

For decades, anti-choice politicians have been frustrated by their inability to shutter abortion clinics completely and make abortion illegal outright. Consequently, they have resorted to more and more creative ways to make abortion services as inaccessible as possible. One such tactic is to pass laws that disqualify health centers that offer abortion services from seeing patients in government health-care programs, such as Title X and Medicaid. These laws are sometimes called “defunding laws.”

Defunding Laws Would Devastate the Country’s Family-Planning System

Politicians in Congress have attacked family-planning programs by aiming to restrict the flow of federal dollars to reproductive-health clinics if they, as part of the full menu of reproductive-health services they offer, provide abortion care or, in some cases, are simply affiliated with a provider that does offer abortion care.

Effects of the Global Gag Rule: Examples from Around the World

During the years that the global gag rule was in effect, it resulted in dramatic drops in funding to organizations worldwide that provide necessary family-planning services and other health-care services and an increase in abortion. Indeed, a 2011 Stanford University study found that abortion rates more than doubled in African countries that were most reliant on U.S. family-planning aid during the years that policy was in place.

Fast Facts about the Federal Refusal Clause

The Federal Refusal Clause is a sweeping exemption from laws and regulations that ensure that women have access to abortion services.

Fetal Tissue Donation and Choice

Some women who choose abortion also decide to donate the fetal tissue for research purposes – a practice that is highly ethical and well-regulated, and which has led to major medical breakthroughs. Despite this, for more than 20 years, opponents of reproductive rights have raised a series of (unproven) alarmist claims about the practice of tissue donation – claiming that women, doctors, and researchers are systematically “trafficking” in “body parts,” and even more bizarrely, that allowing tissue to be donated encourages abortion.

Forced-Ultrasound Legislation is an Egregious Intrusion into Medical Care

The Ultrasound Informed Consent Act (H.R.3805 in the 112th Congress), sponsored by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), effectively mandates that all women seeking abortion services undergo an ultrasound, even if not medically necessary, and even if it is against a woman’s will. At first, this proposal might sound innocuous, or even beneficial. However, a closer look reveals that the legislation is an egregious and unprecedented federal intrusion into medical care – and is, at its core, designed to intimidate, shame, and harass women who seek to exercise their constitutionally protected right to choose.

Freedom of Choice Act

Following the Supreme Court’s closely divided decision to uphold the first-ever federal ban on abortion in 2007, it became clear that the stakes changed and the right to choose was facing a new level of assault. That’s why the pro-choice community supports the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) – a measure that would codify Roe v. Wade’s protections and guarantee the right to choose for future generations of women.

Global Gag Rule - A Flawed Policy That Sacrifices Women’s Lives

On January 23, 2009, during his first week in office, President Barack Obama repealed the global gag rule, a policy that prohibited the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) from granting family-planning funds to any overseas health center unless it agreed not to use its own, private, non-U.S. funds for: (1) abortion services, (2) abortion-related advocacy, or (3) abortion counseling or referrals. The policy effectively blocked funds from organizations that provide family-planning services, as well as other critical health services, to some of the poorest women in the world.

Health Groups Support Confidential Health Services for Young People

National medical and public health organizations support access to confidential health services for young people as a means to improve health outcomes.

Lift the Ban on Privately Funded Abortion Services for Military Women Overseas

Since 1979, Congress has prohibited the use of federal funds for abortion services at overseas military hospitals in almost all cases. In 1985, the ban was made permanent by the DoD authorization bill.1 In 1988, DoD issued an administrative order – without congressional consultation – extending the funding ban to prohibit women from obtaining abortion care with their own funds at military facilities overseas. Prior to the 1988 restrictions, women would have to pay for the procedures themselves.

Mandatory Parental-Involvement Laws Threaten Young Women’s Safety

Mandatory parental-involvement (consent and notice) laws do not solve the problem of inadequate family communication; they only exacerbate a potentially dangerous situation.

Mifepristone is a Safe Choice

Mifepristone (also known by its original name RU 486 and its trade name, Mifeprex®) is the first and only Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medication providing women with a safe and effective, nonsurgical option for early pregnancy termination. Mifepristone has been tested extensively and used safely and effectively worldwide since 1981, and in the United States since 2000.

Mifepristone: The Impact of Abortion Politics on Women’s Health and Scientific Research

Mifepristone is the first and only Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medication providing women with a safe and effective nonsurgical option for early pregnancy termination. Mifepristone has been tested extensively and used safely and effectively worldwide since 1981 and in the United States since 2000. By 2005, nearly 15 percent of women in the U.S. who received abortion care used mifepristone. In 2011, the number had grown to 36 percent. Despite its proven safety and its promise for scientific research, continued political attacks on mifepristone provide a prime example of how opposition to a woman’s right to privacy and choice impairs medical advances and contradicts scientific research, compromising public health.

Nelson Provisions in Affordable Care Act Could Jeopardize, Stigmatize Women's Access to Abortion Services

In a last-minute deal, anti-choice Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) won inclusion of a number of abortion-related provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the national health-reform law passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in March 2010.

Protect D.C. Residents’ Rights; Repeal the Ban on Local Abortion Funding

Barring the District from using its own locally raised revenues for abortion services usurps the prerogatives of the local D.C. government and tramples the rights of District residents. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 73,000 nonelderly Medicaid-enrolled women whose access is affected by the ban resided in the city in 2011. No other jurisdiction or state is told how to use its locally raised revenue. In fact, 17 states currently choose to provide local funds for abortion services.

Race and Sex Selection Abortion Bans - A False Solution to the Real Problems of Racism and Sexism

For many years, anti-choice lawmakers have tried to ban abortion using every possible reason and excuse – including, now, on the grounds of purported concern about race or sex selection. Race- and sex-selection abortion bans co-opt civil-rights language and use it to attack reproductive rights. These bills criminalize a doctor for providing abortion care if he or she fails to determine whether the race or sex of the pregnancy is a factor in the woman's decision; the Franks bill carries a five-year prison term for doctors.

Refusal Laws: Dangerous for Women’s Health

Refusal laws (sometimes called “conscience” laws) permit a broad range of individuals and institutions—including hospitals, hospital employees, health-care providers, employers, and insurers—to refuse to provide, pay, counsel or even refer for medical treatment.

Roe v. Wade and the Right to Choose

When Roe v. Wade was decided in January 1973, abortion except to save a woman’s life was banned in nearly two thirds of states. Laws in most of the remaining states contained only a few additional exceptions. An estimated 1.2 million women each year resorted to illegal abortion, despite the known hazards of frightening trips to dangerous locations in strange parts of town, of whiskey as an anesthetic, doctors who were often marginal or unlicensed practitioners, unsanitary conditions, incompetent treatment, infection, hemorrhage, disfiguration, and death.

Smith Bill Represents Extreme Attack on Access to Abortion Care

The Smith bill opens an entirely new front in anti-abortion forces' unending campaign to ban the abortion. The bill permanently blocks abortion coverage for low-income women, civil servants, D.C. residents, and military women, but it goes even further. It also imposes tax penalties on any small business that provides comprehensive health coverage to its employees; imposes the failed Stupak-Pitts abortion-coverage ban on the new health system; and jeopardizes the availability of private abortion coverage nationwide.

Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) Laws - Decreasing Access, Driving Providers Away

Typically promoted as regulatory schemes that are reasonable and appropriate, in fact, TRAP rules impose significant burdens on health-care providers, with the goal of forcing them to shut their doors.

The Difference Between Emergency Contraception and Medical Abortion (Mifepristone/RU 486)

The line between contraception and abortion is often blurred, intentionally and unintentionally, in the course of policy discussions about emergency contraception (also known as the “morning-after” pill) and the early-abortion option, mifepristone (also known as RU 486). The distinction between the two is important, especially since anti-choice lawmakers are trying to restrict women’s access to these and other reproductive-health services.

The Federal Abortion Ban

In 2003, Congress passed the Federal Abortion Ban, and President Bush signed it into law. The ban outlaws certain second-trimester abortions that doctors have said are necessary to protect some women’s health. The law has no exception for cases when a woman’s health is in danger.

The Federal Refusal Clause: Endangering Women’s Health

The Federal Refusal Clause, also known as the Weldon amendment, is a wide-sweeping and controversial provision that threatens women’s access to reproductive-health care by blocking federal, state, and local governments from enforcing their own pro-choice laws and contracts.

The Safety of Legal Abortion and the Hazards of Illegal Abortion

As part of their strategy to make abortion illegal and unavailable, anti-choice forces make unsubstantiated claims that legal abortion is harmful to women’s health. The fact is that the decriminalization of abortion in the United States in 1973 has led to tremendous gains in protecting women’s health.

The Truth about Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Anyone seeking health-care services should receive comprehensive, unbiased, medically and factually accurate information. Women facing unintended pregnancy deserve no less. When women are fully informed, they are better able to make responsible and appropriate decisions about their reproductive health. Mindful of this, the anti-choice movement has for years tried to restrict, control, and manipulate the information doctors give women facing unplanned pregnancies. Unable to shut down legitimate public-health clinics, their most recent strategy is instead to build a network across the country of anti-choice organizations, some of them posing as comprehensive health-care clinics – so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs).

The Women's Health Protection Act

In January 2015, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Lois Frankel (D-FL) reintroduced the Women’s Health Protection Act (S.217/H.R.448), a bill to preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose by curbing restrictions on abortion. If enacted, the bill would establish federal protections against anti-choice measures that purport to protect women’s health but are really about taking away their right to choose.

U.S. Supreme Court Decisions Concerning Reproductive Rights 1927-2015

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on many choice-related cases since 1927.

“Personhood” Measures: Extreme and Dangerous Attempts to Ban Abortion

The most strident anti-choice advocates are pushing for an all-out abortion ban, and have chosen among the most far-reaching approaches to reach their goal: so-called “personhood” measures.

Birth Control

Defunding Laws Would Devastate State's Family-Planning Systems

For decades, anti-choice politicians have been frustrated by their inability to shutter abortion clinics completely and make abortion illegal outright. Consequently, they have resorted to more and more creative ways to make abortion services as inaccessible as possible. One such tactic is to pass laws that disqualify health centers that offer abortion services from seeing patients in government health-care programs, such as Title X and Medicaid. These laws are sometimes called “defunding laws.”

Defunding Laws Would Devastate the Country’s Family-Planning System

Politicians in Congress have attacked family-planning programs by aiming to restrict the flow of federal dollars to reproductive-health clinics if they, as part of the full menu of reproductive-health services they offer, provide abortion care or, in some cases, are simply affiliated with a provider that does offer abortion care.

Effects of the Global Gag Rule: Examples from Around the World

During the years that the global gag rule was in effect, it resulted in dramatic drops in funding to organizations worldwide that provide necessary family-planning services and other health-care services and an increase in abortion. Indeed, a 2011 Stanford University study found that abortion rates more than doubled in African countries that were most reliant on U.S. family-planning aid during the years that policy was in place.

Emergency Contraception (EC): An Important and Underutilized Contraceptive Option

Emergency contraception (EC), also known as the “morning-after” pill, can substantially reduce a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant when taken soon after sex. EC does not cause abortion; rather it prevents pregnancy.

Global Gag Rule - A Flawed Policy That Sacrifices Women’s Lives

On January 23, 2009, during his first week in office, President Barack Obama repealed the global gag rule, a policy that prohibited the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) from granting family-planning funds to any overseas health center unless it agreed not to use its own, private, non-U.S. funds for: (1) abortion services, (2) abortion-related advocacy, or (3) abortion counseling or referrals. The policy effectively blocked funds from organizations that provide family-planning services, as well as other critical health services, to some of the poorest women in the world.

Guarantee Women’s Access to Birth Control

In theory, the concept is simple: a woman walks into a pharmacy with a birth-control prescription from her doctor and should walk out with the medication – without intimidation, without delay, without a run-around. But in reality, some pharmacists refuse to fill women’s legally prescribed birth-control prescriptions. Some even go so far as to lecture women, humiliate them in public, or refuse to hand back the prescription after they refuse to fill it.

Health Groups Support Confidential Health Services for Young People

National medical and public health organizations support access to confidential health services for young people as a means to improve health outcomes.

Health-Care Law is a Giant Advancement for Women's Reproductive-Health Care

In March 2010, Congress passed landmark health-reform legislation known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the Affordable Care Act). The law represents a historic step forward for America’s health-care system, which was woefully inadequate from a reproductive-health perspective.

Landmark Law Guarantees Access to Birth Control Without Copay

Under the Affordable Care Act, women in all 50 states and the District of Columbia are guaranteed access to all methods of FDA-approved birth control at no co-pay. This monumental policy removes significant obstacles to reproductive-health care and makes this critical service available for nearly all women.

Support U.S. Servicewomen’s Access to Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception (EC) is a safe, effective, and FDA-approved medication that prevents pregnancy if taken soon after sex. EC may be used when other contraceptive methods fail or are not used, such as when women are sexually assaulted. Although EC is not a substitute for ongoing contraceptive use and does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, it can reduce unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion.

Teen Pregnancy: A Preventable Epidemic

Our nation is facing an adolescent reproductive-health crisis, with one in four teenage girls having a sexually transmitted disease, and one in three becoming pregnant before the age of 20.

The Difference Between Emergency Contraception and Medical Abortion (Mifepristone/RU 486)

The line between contraception and abortion is often blurred, intentionally and unintentionally, in the course of policy discussions about emergency contraception (also known as the “morning-after” pill) and the early-abortion option, mifepristone (also known as RU 486). The distinction between the two is important, especially since anti-choice lawmakers are trying to restrict women’s access to these and other reproductive-health services.

Title X Family-Planning Services: Fast Facts

Title X of the Public Health Service Act is the cornerstone of the federal domestic family-planning program: it is the only federal program exclusively dedicated to family planning and reproductive-health services. It was enacted with broad bipartisan support in 1970: one of the chief co-sponsors of the bill was then-Rep. (subsequently President) George H.W. Bush, and it was signed into law by then-President Richard Nixon.

Title X: The Nation’s Cornerstone Family-Planning Program

Enacted in 1970 with broad bipartisan support, Title X of the Public Health Service Act is the only federal program exclusively dedicated to family-planning and reproductive-health care. Title X has been a pivotal part of the nation’s family-planning program for more than 40 years, providing millions of women with services ranging from contraception to pap smears and breast-cancer screening.

United Nations Population Fund

Founded in 1969, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is the largest internationally funded source of population assistance to developing countries. For more than 40 years, UNFPA – which is funded entirely from voluntary contributions from participating nations – has provided more than $6 billion in aid to about 150 countries for voluntary family planning and maternal and child health care. The UNFPA provides crucial funding for family-planning services, as well as other essential health services, for some of the poorest women in the world.

What’s Next for Emergency Contraception? How Policymakers Can Improve Women’s Access to Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception (EC) holds tremendous potential for reducing the number of unintended pregnancies. Since the FDA first approved the emergency contraceptive Plan B® in 1999, there has been a tenuous path toward improved access.

Sex Education

"Abstinence-Only" Programs: Ideology Over Science

For more than 25 years, ideology, not science, was driving America’s response to the twin epidemics of teen pregnancy and STD/HIV infections. Congress created the first “abstinence-only” program to promote family-centered solutions to problems associated with teen sexuality, such as unintended pregnancy. Unfortunately, federal grants were awarded that provided young people with medically inaccurate information and did nothing to ameliorate the problem of teen pregnancy.

Americans Support Responsible Sex Education

One of the most striking disparities between public opinion and public policy relates to “abstinence-only” programs. The public overwhelmingly supports age-appropriate, comprehensive sex education, yet anti-choice policymakers have increasingly promoted restrictive abstinence-only programs that censor information about contraception and STD/HIV prevention strategies.

Teen Pregnancy: A Preventable Epidemic

Our nation is facing an adolescent reproductive-health crisis, with one in four teenage girls having a sexually transmitted disease, and one in three becoming pregnant before the age of 20.

 Healthy Pregnancies

Defunding Laws Would Devastate State's Family-Planning Systems

For decades, anti-choice politicians have been frustrated by their inability to shutter abortion clinics completely and make abortion illegal outright. Consequently, they have resorted to more and more creative ways to make abortion services as inaccessible as possible. One such tactic is to pass laws that disqualify health centers that offer abortion services from seeing patients in government health-care programs, such as Title X and Medicaid. These laws are sometimes called “defunding laws.”

Defunding Laws Would Devastate the Country’s Family-Planning System

Politicians in Congress have attacked family-planning programs by aiming to restrict the flow of federal dollars to reproductive-health clinics if they, as part of the full menu of reproductive-health services they offer, provide abortion care or, in some cases, are simply affiliated with a provider that does offer abortion care.

Health-Care Law is a Giant Advancement for Women's Reproductive-Health Care

In March 2010, Congress passed landmark health-reform legislation known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the Affordable Care Act). The law represents a historic step forward for America’s health-care system, which was woefully inadequate from a reproductive-health perspective.

Title X Family-Planning Services: Fast Facts

Title X of the Public Health Service Act is the cornerstone of the federal domestic family-planning program: it is the only federal program exclusively dedicated to family planning and reproductive-health services. It was enacted with broad bipartisan support in 1970: one of the chief co-sponsors of the bill was then-Rep. (subsequently President) George H.W. Bush, and it was signed into law by then-President Richard Nixon.

 


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