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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 choice-related issues in 2013?


The Powers of the President

In advance of the 2012 elections, this updated report documented 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: 11 additional states—Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas—have enacted similar bans. The National Right to Life Committee has designated these bans as a top legislative priority.

Abortion Bans Without Exceptions 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 Federal Employees Health Benefits 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.

Affiliation Bans Would Devastate States’ Family-Planning Systems

Politicians in Congress and the states 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.

Affiliation Bans Would Devastate the Country’s Family-Planning System

Politicians in Congress and the states 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.

Anti-Choice Violence and Intimidation

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

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.

Discriminatory Bans on Abortion Funding Threaten Women’s Health

Each year Congress passes a set of 12 appropriations bills, which collectively fund government programs from October 1 of one year to September 30 of the next. Anti-choice legislators have continually used these “must-pass” bills as vehicles to deny coverage for abortion services to millions of women whose health care is subject to federal control.

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.

Faith and Choice

For many Americans, religious and spiritual convictions contribute significantly to their view on reproductive rights. And while abortion is often discussed in terms of law, medicine, personal autonomy, public health, and the appropriate role of government in citizens’ lives, it is equally valid to consider the issue from a perspective of faith.

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.

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.

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,1 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, the Department of Defense (DoD) appropriations bills have 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.2 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, about one-fifth of women in the U.S. who received abortion care used mifepristone. 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.

Near-Total Abortion Bans

If Roe v. Wade were overturned, it would open the door for anti-choice lawmakers in state and federal governments to enact and enforce laws banning abortion. In fact, some states already have abortion bans on the books, either from before Roe or because they enacted laws after Roe hoping to prompt the Supreme Court to overturn it. Currently, these bans are unenforceable; however, if Roe were overturned they would become enforceable immediately. Still other states have anti-choice legislatures and governors likely to enact abortion bans if Roe were overturned.

Nelson Provisions in Health-Care Reform Bill 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.

Polling Update: Americans Steadfastly Support Roe v. Wade and Legal Abortion

Public Opinion Update: A Look at America’s Pro-Choice Majority

Preserve Insurance Coverage for Abortion Services for Military Sexual-Assault Survivors

Current law permits the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide abortion services at military facilities only in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest. For years, federal law blocked military health-insurance plans from covering a woman’s abortion care if she became pregnant as a result of a sexual assault. In 2013, in a step long overdue, Congress lifted that ban.

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 2011.7 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.

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.

Restrictions on Young Women's Access to Abortion

Most young women talk with at least one parent when facing an unintended pregnancy. But some young women feel for various reasons—including abuse, rape, or incest—that they cannot. Further, placing restrictions on a young woman’s access to abortion can delay her from seeking earlier, safer care, thus putting her health at risk. Of course, most parents hope their daughters will seek out their advice and support, but responsible parents want, above all, for their daughters to be safe.

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-Wicker Bill Represents Extreme Attack on Access to Abortion Care

On May 15, 2013, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) reintroduced the deceptively titled No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R.7/S.946). The House of Representatives passed an earlier version of this bill in 2011 by a vote of 251-175.1 The Senate has never taken it up.

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 “Protect Life Act” Revives Failed Stupak-Pitts Amendment, Effectively Bans Abortion Coverage in Health-Insurance Exchanges

The “Protect Life Act” (H.R.358-S.877), introduced by Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chair Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) and anti-choice Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), represents a major threat to women’s ability to obtain abortion coverage and care.

U.S. Supreme Court Decisions Concerning Reproductive Rights 1927-2012

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

Affiliation Bans Would Devastate States’ Family-Planning Systems

Politicians in Congress and the states 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.

Affiliation Bans Would Devastate the Country’s Family-Planning System

Politicians in Congress and the states 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.

Emergency Contraception Can Help Reduce the Teen-Pregnancy Rate

Emergency contraception (EC) holds tremendous potential for reducing the number of unintended pregnancies among young women.

Emergency Contraception Can Help Reduce the Teen-Pregnancy Rate

Emergency contraception (EC) holds tremendous potential for reducing the number of unintended pregnancies among young women. 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. Fewer unintended pregnancies mean a reduced need for abortion – a goal on which everyone should be able to agree.

Faith and Choice

For many Americans, religious and spiritual convictions contribute significantly to their view on reproductive rights. And while abortion is often discussed in terms of law, medicine, personal autonomy, public health, and the appropriate role of government in citizens’ lives, it is equally valid to consider the issue from a perspective of faith.

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.

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,1 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 Holds Tremendous Promise 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 new law presents an historic opportunity to improve America’s health-care system, which is woefully inadequate from a reproductive-health perspective.

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.1 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.

The “Protect Life Act” Revives Failed Stupak-Pitts Amendment, Effectively Bans Abortion Coverage in Health-Insurance Exchanges

The “Protect Life Act” (H.R.358-S.877), introduced by Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chair Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) and anti-choice Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), represents a major threat to women’s ability to obtain abortion coverage and care.

Title X Family-Planning Services: Fast Facts

Title X (ten) 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,1 and it was signed into law by then-President Richard Nixon.

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.

Faith and Choice

For many Americans, religious and spiritual convictions contribute significantly to their view on reproductive rights. And while abortion is often discussed in terms of law, medicine, personal autonomy, public health, and the appropriate role of government in citizens’ lives, it is equally valid to consider the issue from a perspective of faith.

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

Affiliation Bans Would Devastate States’ Family-Planning Systems

Politicians in Congress and the states 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.

Affiliation Bans Would Devastate the Country’s Family-Planning System

Politicians in Congress and the states 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 Holds Tremendous Promise 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 new law presents an historic opportunity to improve America’s health-care system, which is woefully inadequate from a reproductive-health perspective.

Title X Family-Planning Services: Fast Facts

Title X (ten) 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,1 and it was signed into law by then-President Richard Nixon.

 


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