2013: A Year of War on Reproductive Rights

New study finds drastic erosion of abortion rights and access, with 22 states implementing 70 restrictions on abortion

From Texas to North Carolina to Arkansas, 2013 has been a rough year for reproductive rights in the United States. But did you know just how rough?

Over the past three years, state-level legislative initiatives have eroded access to abortion and shuttered clinics at a stunning pace. A new study from the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute finds that, in 2013, this trend accelerated and spread, drastically transforming the reproductive rights landscape across the country and entering the new year with considerable momentum.

The report, which was released this week, finds that in 2013, 22 states implemented 70 abortion restrictions. "This makes 2013 second only to 2011 in the number of new abortion restrictions enacted in a single year," the report reads.

Yet, when considered over a longer time frame, this trend is even more extreme. The report explains, "To put recent trends in even sharper relief, 205 abortion restrictions were enacted over the past three years (2011-2013), but just 189 were enacted during the entire previous decade (2001-2010)."

A majority of the restrictions fall under four categories: "abortion bans, restrictions on abortion providers, limitations on the provision of medication abortion and restrictions on coverage of abortion in private health plans," explains the report.

The net effect is transforming reproductive rights and access across the United States. "In 2000, 31% of women of reproductive age lived in one of the 13 states considered hostile to abortion [defined as having at least four major abortion restrictions], but by 2013, 56% of women lived in one of the now 27 hostile states."

The following chart illustrates this trajectory.

The report notes that not all state-level initiatives have curbed reproductive rights. A handful of states passed laws aimed at expanding access to reproductive and sexual health services, including a California law aimed at gradually expanding access to abortion. Yet, this trend is a pittance compared to the nation-wide attack on reproductive rights, the report finds.

"This is still spreading across the country," said Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, in an interview with The Huffington Post. "We've seen a shift from 2011 when much of [the] action took place in Kansas, Arizona and Oklahoma. We're now seeing Texas, Arkansas, North Carolina -- more states are adopting more restrictions."


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