(PRESS RELEASE) Politicians in statehouses across the country continued to attack women’s access to vital health care services in 2015, introducing nearly 400 bills and enacting 47 new laws restricting access to reproductive health care this legislative session—according to a new report from the Center for Reproductive Rights issued today.
The report—2015 State of the States: Fighting Back by Pushing Forward—provides a state-by-state summary of restrictions passed in 2015, as well as an overview of major developments in the courts regarding unconstitutional intrusions on the right to safe and legal abortion. Specifically, the new report details how politicians prioritized bills this session which interfere in the doctor-patient relationship, despite overwhelming opposition from the medical community. From measures in Arizona and Arkansas which force physicians lie to their patients about the potential to “reverse” a medication abortion to bans on the most common method of second trimester abortion care in Kansas and Oklahoma, politicians peddled junk science and bad medicine in order to block women from the full range of reproductive health care services.
The report also outlines a surge in restrictions in the South, including measures which force women to delay abortion care by anywhere from one to three days—a particularly troubling trend since women in the region already face limited availability of reproductive health care services. Were it not for a court order blocking such a law in Florida, every single southern state would force women to delay their ability to access constitutionally protected health care.
Notably, some of the most dangerous measures enacted this year mirror Texas’ omnibus anti-abortion measure from 2013, which threatens to shutter all but ten abortion clinics in the state if the U.S Supreme Court fails to intervene.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“It seems painfully clear that lawmakers in 2015 still haven’t gotten the message from the courts and their constituents: stop playing politics with women’s health and focus on priorities that support our families and communities.
“Not content with trotting out the same old restrictions on safe and legal abortion, politicians in this legislative session introduced new and increasingly troubling ways to come between women and their trusted health care providers.
“We call upon those politicians fixated on cutting of safe and legal abortion access to give up this crusade to block women from vital health care and fulfill their responsibility to respect and protect the constitutional rights of all women, regardless of their zip code.”
Many of the measures outlined in today’s report have been challenged and successfully blocked by the Center for Reproductive Rights—further underscoring the importance of the courts in protecting women’s access to safe and legal abortion. In the last six months, the Center filed six new challenges to unconstitutional state laws, including:
- Florida’s 24 hour mandatory delay for women seeking abortion services,
- Kansas’ unconstitutional law which criminalizes doctors for providing the most common method of abortion in the second trimester,
- Tennessee’s Texas-style clinic shutdown law and 48 hour mandatory delay for women seeking abortion services,
- Arizona’s measure which forces health care providers to lie to women about medical abortion “reversal.”
- Oklahoma’s unconstitutional law which criminalizes doctors for providing the most common method of abortion in the second trimester, a 72 hour mandatory delay for women seeking abortion services, and a measure which criminalizes women’s health care providers simply for providing abortion.
Finally, the report also provides some bright spots in the midst of this year’s onslaught of restrictions, noting that nearly 300 measures were introduced in state legislatures across the country intended to protect or advance reproductive health and rights. For example, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Texas introduced the Patient Trust Act in 2015—a measure which ensures that the state cannot force health care providers to give medically inaccurate information to a patient, or provide care in a manner that is not evidence based.