The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Ted Miller, 202.973.3032

New Report Shows Change in Tone of Choice Debate in 2008

2008 election victories represent a rare opportunity for America’s pro-choice majority


NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation today released the 18th edition of Who Decides? The Status of Women's Reproductive Rights in the United States, the nation's most comprehensive report with analysis of choice-related legislation and court decisions. The report's release comes as the country prepares to celebrate the inauguration of pro-choice President-elect Barack Obama and commemorate the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark decision, Roe v. Wade.

This year's report reviews the landscape of reproductive rights following a historic election cycle where pro-choice lawmakers prevailed in races across the country - in the White House, in Congress, and in the states. In addition to President-elect Obama's victory, voters across the country elected 21 new pro-choice members of the U.S. House and five new pro-choice senators. Voters in three states - California, Colorado, and South Dakota - rejected anti-choice ballot measures.

"Today, we release Who Decides? at a pivotal moment in American history. We face a changing political landscape. We celebrate pro-choice electoral successes across the country. But with these successes comes profound responsibility," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "On Capitol Hill and in the state capitals, we have a unique opportunity to advance a common-ground, commonsense agenda that will change the tone of the debate over reproductive rights and make real improvements in the lives of women and their families."

This year's report also catalogues the consequences of President George W. Bush's administration on the state of women's reproductive rights. During President Bush's eight years in office, states imposed 317 anti-choice measures that limited women's reproductive freedom and privacy.

The report grades each state on women's reproductive rights and summarizes related state laws. This year's edition also includes key policy findings, which include the following:

Pro-Choice Progress:

  • In 2008, 23 states enacted 39 pro-choice measures - four of these were Prevention First measures, or policies that help prevent unintended pregnancy.
  • Colorado, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin enacted Prevention First measures in 2008 that are aimed at improving birth-control access or teaching teens accurate sex education all toward the goal of preventing unintended pregnancy.
  • In Wisconsin, Gov. Jim Doyle signed into law a bill ensuring that sexual-assault survivors receive information about and have access to emergency contraception (EC) in emergency rooms, making Wisconsin the 14th state to enact such policies.

Anti-Choice Attacks:

  • In 2008, 16 states enacted 24 anti-choice measures.
  • Oklahoma passed an omnibus bill that allows certain individuals and entities to refuse to provide abortion services, requires women to view ultrasound images before providing abortion care, and prohibits certain health-care professionals from providing abortion services. This was just one of six anti-choice measures Oklahoma enacted in 2008.

The report and additional updated information can be found at

For over 50 years, Reproductive Freedom for All (formerly NARAL Pro-Choice America) has fought to protect and advance reproductive freedom at the federal and state levels—including access to abortion care, birth control, pregnancy and post-partum care, and paid family leave—for everybody. Reproductive Freedom for All is powered by its more than 4 million members from every state and congressional district in the country, representing the 8 in 10 Americans who support legal abortion.