New website exposes motives of anti-abortion policymakers

July 2020

While last week’s Supreme Court decision struck down a Louisiana abortion law, hundreds of restrictive abortion laws remain on the books—a new online tool seeks to hold state lawmakers accountable for promoting women’s, children’s health.

07.09.2020 - (PRESS RELEASE) Today, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Ibis Reproductive Health released a new interactive map, which shows the number of abortion restrictions in each state compared to the number of policies that support pregnant people, children, and families. This new tool comes on the heels of last week’s Supreme Court decision in June Medical Services v. Russo, which represented an important win for the nearly 10,000 people who seek abortion care in Louisiana each year. For now, abortion clinics in Louisiana will remain open. However, state lawmakers continue to pass abortion restrictions at an alarming rate.

As policymakers continue to enact restrictive abortion laws, the online tool Evaluating Priorities assesses whether these same lawmakers are focusing their efforts on passing evidence-based policies supportive of women’s, children’s, and families’ health. The tool gives scores for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Vermont ranked as the state with the best priorities, with 20 supportive health policies and no abortion restrictions. The website ranks Louisiana as one of the worst states, having passed 94% of common abortion restrictions and only 48% of the policies essential to support women and families. The findings reveal a clear trend: States with the most abortion restrictions tend to have the fewest supportive policies for women and their families. Likewise, states with few abortion restrictions tend to have more supportive policies.

“When restricting abortion access, lawmakers often claim they are doing so to protect the safety of women and children. This analysis highlights their hypocrisy and exposes their true motives,” said Elisabeth Smith, Chief Counsel of State Policy and Advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Those same lawmakers have passed very few laws that would actually improve the well-being of community members in their state. While we celebrate continued abortion access for Louisianans, we know lawmakers there and across the country will continue to use health and safety as a guise to cut off abortion access. This is precisely what has happened during the COVID-19 pandemic, with states abusing their emergency powers to ban abortion, including in: Alabama; Arkansas; Iowa; Louisiana; Ohio; Oklahoma; Tennessee; and Texas. Many of those same states have the highest numbers of abortion restrictions in the country, according to the resource launched today.”

“In states where it is harder for women to make choices about their pregnancy and to have a safe abortion, we also see that there are fewer policies in place that could support women and their children before and after pregnancy,” said Terri-Ann Thompson, PhD, Senior Associate at Ibis Reproductive Health. “We know policies such as increasing Medicaid eligibility limits for pregnant women have been shown to increase health care coverage of pregnant women and reduce infant mortality and low birth weight. If those policies are not in place, then we don’t see the resulting benefits for women and children’s health outcomes.”

Methodology: We selected 18 abortion restrictions that target when, where, and how abortion can be provided and covered. Similarly, we selected 25 policies that support pregnant people; promote children’s health, education, and safety; and support family financial health. Each state was analyzed to see how many of these restrictions and policies they had on the books. We scored each state on the number of abortion restrictions (0-18) and supportive policies (0-25) in place.

The online resource launched today is a continuation of a report that was published in 2014 and updated in 2017; this is the first edition of the report published as a website, where visitors can view a nationwide comparison chart of all 50 states and Washington, D.C. and use an interactive map to see how each state scores.

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Media Contact

Center for Reproductive Rights: center.press@reprorights.org