WASHINGTON, DC - January 15 -
NARAL Pro-Choice America today released the 17th annual Who Decides? The Status of Women's Reproductive Rights in the United States, the nation's most comprehensive report with analysis and tracking of choice-related legislation and Court decisions. This report comes as Americans commemorate the 35th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide, and look toward the 2008 general election.
The 2006 elections altered the landscape for choice across the country. While women still face numerous challenges to their right to choose, the outcomes from the 2007 legislative sessions show how changing the composition of the state legislatures and Congress can lead to strong pro-choice gains.
"This report reinforces our resolve to protect our gains – electoral and legislative," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "Further, we must ensure that even more fair-minded leaders who will stand up for the values of freedom and privacy are in positions of power."
NARAL Pro-Choice America asserts that anti-choice politicians view the Supreme Court's decision in April 2007 upholding the Bush Federal Abortion Ban as a green light to continue their attacks on safe, legal abortion. With the addition of two Bush appointees, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, the Court effectively reversed precedent and rolled back a key protection for women's health guaranteed since Roe.
The report grades each state on women's reproductive rights and summarizes related state laws. This year's edition introduces key political and policy-related findings, which include the following:
- In 2007, 28 states enacted a total of 80 pro-choice measures, a 43-percent increase from 2006. States enacted 17 Prevention First measures in 2007, an 89-percent increase from 2006.
- Minnesota and Oregon, two states where pro-choice forces made gains in the 2006 elections, enacted three Prevention First measures each, the most of any state.
- In New Hampshire, a new pro-choice legislative majority repealed, on a bipartisan basis, a parental-notification law that had been at issue in a U.S. Supreme Court case. The lawmakers' repeal made the issue moot, and the case was therefore dismissed.
- In 2007, 19 states enacted a total of 43 anti-choice measures, a four-percent decrease from 2006. This figure from 2007 means states have enacted 557 anti-choice measures since 1995.
- Missouri and Oklahoma enacted the most anti-choice legislation in 2007, with six measures each.
- Mississippi and North Dakota enacted near-total bans on abortion that will take effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Now, four states have enacted such bans in just the last two years. Louisiana and South Dakota enacted similar bans in 2006 and 2005, respectively.
In addition to the report's findings, Keenan said anti-choice groups are pushing ballot measures, most notably in Colorado, Missouri, and Montana – all of which could lead to bans on abortion. The proposed measures in Colorado and Montana would establish constitutional protections for fertilized eggs, which could not only outlaw abortion but also ban birth control, stem-cell research, and assisted reproductive technologies such as in-vitro fertilization.
The report and additional up-to-the minute information can be found at www.ProChoiceAmerica.org/whodecides.