As Roe v. Wade is under threat, report indicates momentum for reproductive freedom in 2019
For Immediate Release: February 4, 2019
Today, NARAL Pro-Choice America released the 28th edition of its annual report: Who Decides? The Status of Women’s Reproductive Rights in the United States. As the country faces a new reality for abortion rights, with the Supreme Court now more hostile to reproductive freedom, the new report illustrates the landscape of reproductive rights in the states. Notably, the report finds that 23 states and the District of Columbia enacted 68 pro-choice measures in 2018—an enormous increase over previous years, and the most pro-choice legislative victories in over a decade. Many of these victories were powered by the tireless work of NARAL’s chapters, affiliates, and 2 million members, in partnership with allies and activists all across the country. The data is clear: Americans from Oregon to Maryland to Georgia support reproductive freedom.
Yet, no state has achieved total access, and 22 states enacted 50 anti-choice measures. At a time when Roe v. Wade is under threat like never before, with an anti-choice majority on the Supreme Court that could gut abortion rights at any point, many states, even blue states, have a ways to go in guaranteeing abortion access and enshrining Roe at the state level.
“Despite the bleak picture Brett Kavanaugh and the anti-choice majority on the Supreme Court paint for our essential rights, 2018 gives me hope. This past year, which included the largest Supreme Court protest in history and incredible grassroots energy in the historic midterm elections, shows that the pro-choice majority across the country is a force to be reckoned with,” said Ilyse Hogue, NARAL Pro-Choice America President. “Our essential rights are under dire and immediate threat and NARAL members are mobilizing in statehouses and turning out at ballot boxes like never before. Pro-choice gains in 2018 were hard-fought and won in governors’ seats, state houses, and in senate chambers. Now, 2 million NARAL members across the country are building on that momentum, putting a check on Trump’s out-of-touch agenda, and fighting to advance reproductive freedom in the states.”
As the current June Medical Services v. Gee Supreme Court case shows, the thread that women’s rights hang by is dangerously thin in so many places around the country. While the fate of Roe hangs in the balance, women’s access to safe and legal abortion will largely be determined at the state level. NARAL recently launched a new major campaign called the “Reality of Roe” to educate Americans in all 50 states about the current threat to the legal right to abortion and reproductive freedom in their communities, and to mobilize its 2 million members to take action in support of protecting and expanding access. NARAL’s “Reality of Roe” campaign will work to defend against major legislative threats and secure policy victories where opportunities exist—especially as a result of state level electoral gains in the 2018 elections.
The campaign will also build on pro-choice victories enacted across the states in 2018, the strongest of which include:
- Massachusetts’ governor signed into law a measure to further protect access to reproductive healthcare and repeal archaic provisions that criminalized abortion and punished women.
- Multiple states, including Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Oregon, and the District of Columbia enacted measures to improve maternal mortality—at the very least beginning to evaluate the care and support that pregnant women can receive.
- Among Maryland’s robust pro-choice policy victories are laws allowing women to obtain a 12-month supply of contraception at one time, eliminating barriers that many state employees and low-income women face in accessing essential contraception. Maryland also enacted groundbreaking measures to improve health outcomes for pregnant women and infants, and established basic standards for incarcerated women’s access to reproductive healthcare.
- Several states—including Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Washington—went beyond current federal contraceptive coverage policies and enacted laws requiring insurers to cover a broad range of contraceptives without cost-sharing and/or cover a year’s supply of contraception dispensed at one time.
In theory, Roe promises every woman the constitutional right to abortion, but given the new makeup of the Supreme Court, Roe is at risk of falling. The report keys show how the reality of abortion access varies across states, as well as the status and impact of existing laws. NARAL’s Reality of Roe campaign will work within states to safeguard these critical rights and expand reproductive freedom across the states.
NARAL Pro-Choice America and its network of state affiliates are dedicated to protecting and expanding reproductive freedom for all Americans. NARAL works to guarantee that every woman has the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion. In recognition of its work defending our constitutional right to choose, Fortune Magazine described NARAL as “one of the top 10 advocacy groups in America.”