Legalize it! Ban it! Abortion Legislation Across the US


It’s no secret that abortion access and reproductive healthcare have been under attack in the U.S. recently. Some states, like New York, are currently counteracting these attacks on healthcare, while some states are leaning in and using anti-abortion legislation to their advantage. Elizabeth Nash and Megan Donovan from the Guttmacher Institute sit down with us to discuss what abortion access currently looks like in the United States, and how some states are standing up and fighting back.

In the United States today, abortion access looks very different depending on where you live. Abortion restrictions tend to spread across the south and Midwest, while non-impacted access is on the east and west coasts. These divides can also exist within a state itself, meaning access to abortion is extremely wide-ranging and varied on a state-by-state basis. Many states are trying to expand abortion restrictions and bans through legislation, while other states are in the process of pushing back by protecting abortion access.

In 2018, abortion access changed at the federal level. Justice Kavanaugh’s ascension to the Supreme Court tipped the scale in terms of abortion rights and put Roe v. Wade in danger. The 2018 midterm elections put more women in the halls of Congress than ever before, diversified the House, and increased the number of members that fight for sexual and reproductive health and rights. At the state level, only 23 abortion restrictions were enacted, but some of these restrictions and proposed restrictions were extreme.

In order to protect Roe v. Wade, some states (including New Mexico, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, etc.,) are looking to reset their legal standards to affirm the right to abortion, as New York has done. States are also examining their barriers to abortion care and repealing them. If states wanted to expand care even farther, they could further consider affordability, public and private insurance coverage, and state Medicaid funds.

We are seeing countless attacks on abortion access from the current administration and pro-choice Senate, but the new House of Representatives offers a counter narrative. They are in the process of introducing pieces of legislation that expand access to abortion, including the Each Woman Act, which would eliminate the Hyde Amendment and other restrictions on insurance, and the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would guard against many of the unnecessary restrictions on providers and clinics.

Photo by Rishi Kumar on Unsplash

Links from this episode

Guttmacher Institute
Guttmacher on Facebook
Guttmacher on Twitter
Population Institute’s 50-State Report Card
Each Woman Act
Women’s Health Protection Act

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