"Extreme hostility" toward women's healthcare and abortion access continued in 2015 and went far beyond attempts to defund Planned Parenthod, with state legislatures introducing nearly 400 bills and enacting 47 new laws restricting reproductive rights, according to a new report from the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR).
"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."
—Nancy Northup, Center for Reproductive Rights
The annual assessment, issued Monday, details how politicians gave special priority this session to bills that interfere in the doctor-patient relationship, despite overwhelming opposition from the medical community.
What's more, the report—entitled 2015 State of the States: Fighting Back by Pushing Forward (pdf)—reveals a surge in such restrictions in the South, including measures which force women to delay abortion care by anywhere from one to three days. "It is particularly troubling that these restrictions were enacted in a region of the country where care is already scarcely available," the report notes, pointing out that 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.
"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," said Nancy Northup, CRR president and CEO.
"Not content with trotting out the same old restrictions on safe and legal abortion," she continued, "politicians in this legislative session introduced new and increasingly troubling ways to come between women and their trusted health care providers."
Indeed, the report suggests that states continue to be right-wing policy incubators, with "a new crop of outrageous bills...signifying the ongoing experimental nature of measures introduced by opponents of safe, legal abortion care."
For example, a measure in Arizona forces health care providers to lie to women about medical abortion "reversal," while a provision in Oklahoma would permit warrantless searches of facilities that provide abortion.
Even in Texas, where the fight against an omnibus anti-abortion law has since been taken all the way to the Supreme Court, "politicians in the state continue to chip away at abortion access," the report reads.
CRR does point to some "bright spots" in the form of nearly 300 measures intended to protect or advance reproductive health and rights.
But with such proposals in the minority, "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," Northup said, "and fulfill their responsibility to respect and protect the constitutional rights of all women, regardless of their zip code."