The ‘State’ of Play for Abortion Access Across the Country, with Reproductive Freedom Under Attack
Since state legislatures began their 2021 session, we have seen the anti-choice movement reacting to the election of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris by doubling down on their attacks on reproductive freedom and abortion access. So far in 2021, anti-choice lawmakers have already introduced, moved, or passed more than 60 bills attacking reproductive freedom.
These anti-choice lawmakers are going against the 77% of Americans who support Roe, resorting to inflammatory rhetoric that has no basis in reality or science. @NARAL will not stop defending against attacks like these until we achieve freedom for every body. ????
— Ilyse Hogue (@ilyseh) February 5, 2021
Unsurprisingly, lawmakers hostile to our fundamental rights spent the beginning of 2021 introducing and passing bills to roll back access to abortion care—constantly putting their ideology before the health, safety, and well-being of Americans during a pandemic. The anti-choice movement remains laser-focused on banning abortion by any means necessary.These attacks on reproductive freedom demonstrate the lengths that anti-choice politicians are willing to go in order to do just that:
- Attacking Abortion from Every Angle: Anti-choice lawmakers in Arizona have introduced more than 10 different pieces of legislation attacking reproductive freedom. One bill in particular, SB 1457, restricts abortion from almost every angle imaginable, from forcing providers to interrogate patients seeking abortion care, to banning public institutions from providing abortion referrals, changing the definition of “person” to include a fetus from the moment of conception.
- Total Bans on Abortion: For years, anti-choice, anti-freedom politicians worked to incrementally chip away at the right to abortion through a series of restrictions that pushed access out of reach. Now, they’re saying the quiet part loud by pushing unconstitutional, total bans on abortion. Arkansas and Idaho are considering such bans.
- Punishing Providers: Doctors who provide abortion care believe deeply in protecting the health and wellbeing of pregnant people, and see the realities people face every day when deciding if, when, and how to raise a family. North Dakota’s HB 1313, is a total ban similar to Arkansas and Idaho. If passed, it would punish healthcare providers who provide abortion care with up to life in prison.
- Abortion Later in Pregnancy: Sometimes a pregnant person gets a diagnosis of a serious health complication that threatens their life or health. Other times, a family learns later in pregnancy there is a very serious fetal diagnosis or the fetus can’t survive for long. When families are making difficult, complicated, personal medical decisions, one-size-fits-all laws don’t work. A cruel bill filed in Florida could ban abortion later in pregnancy.
- Extreme Bans on Abortion: These bills are clearly unconstitutional, yet anti-choice extremists continue to push these cruel measures as part of their quest to advance their agenda by gutting Roe and criminalizing abortion. In their estimation, if the collateral damage happens to be the actual lives, health, and well-being of women and families, so be it. Anti-choice lawmakers in the South Carolina state Senate recently passed an extreme and unconstitutional bill to ban abortion before many people even know they’re pregnant.
- Constitutional Amendments: Anti-choice constitutional amendments are efforts by state lawmakers to insert anti-choice language into state constitutions and sometimes remove language meant to safeguard reproductive freedom. The Iowa legislature has advanced this type of legislation, and Kansas has approved a ballot measure to be voted on next year.
- Forcing Doctors to Share Health Disinformation: Anti-choice politicians use biased counseling laws to shame and intimidate people seeking abortion care by requiring providers to disseminate anti-choice propaganda. These paternalistic mandates insult pregnant people, implying they are not capable of making their own decisions for themselves. Iowa, Utah, and Wyoming have introduced biased counseling bills.
Don’t allow this barrage of attacks on reproductive freedom fool you; the vast majority of people in the United States —77% of them—support Roe v. Wade. In fact, the majority of Republican voters want to keep Roe.
Because the anti-choice movement knows that its arguments are overwhelmingly unpopular, it resorts to fearmongering and spreading disinformation in order to falsely claim that Democrats who support reproductive freedom are “extremists.” These laws, and the rhetoric Republicans use to describe them, are an extension of that.
For more information on accurate reporting on abortion, including how to avoid amplifying right-wing disinformation and include critical context around the inflammatory terms weaponized by the anti-choice movement, visit Tell the Whole Story, a new initiative from NARAL Pro-Choice America.