For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Samantha Gordon


40 Years After Women Won the Right to Choose, New Report Shows 2012 Another Record Year of Anti-Choice Attacks

WASHINGTON - NARAL Pro-Choice America and NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation today released the 22nd edition of Who Decides? The Status of Women’s Reproductive Rights in the United States, the nation’s most comprehensive report on choice-related legislation. This report shows a mix of progress and setbacks for women’s reproductive freedom across the country.

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America and NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, said that 2012 was a remarkable year for pro-choice Americans.

“In 2012, pro-choice voters and activists worked together to reject the extreme anti-choice tactics which are completely out of touch with our values and priorities,” said Keenan. “Unfortunately, anti-choice politicians didn’t get that memo. These politicians continue to put forth legislation to roll back a woman’s constitutionally guaranteed right to choose. As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, anti-choice politicians remind us that we must fight to defend our rights every day, in every state. Met with this challenge, we will continue to stick together and work to protect our right to reproductive freedom and privacy.”

NARAL Pro-Choice America is proud to also release its 2012 Congressional Record on Choice, which details the choice-related votes Congress took in the second session of the 112th Congress. In 2012 the House continued to attack women’s reproductive rights by unsuccessfully bringing two anti-choice bills to the floor for votes – a bill that would criminalize a doctor for the reasons a woman seeks abortion care, and another that singles out the District of Columbia for an outright ban on abortion care after 20 weeks. In total, the 112th Congress (2011-2012) took 14 votes on choice: 10 in the House of Representatives and four in the Senate. Thankfully, the pro-choice-controlled Senate and President Barack Obama served as firewalls and blocked many anti-choice measures from advancing, most notably defeating Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R-MO) attempt to undermine the nation’s new contraceptive-coverage policy.

At the state level, states continue to impose record numbers of anti-choice laws on women’s reproductive freedom. Among the 42 anti-choice measures newly enacted in 2012, the most prominent trends were: bans on abortion care after 20 weeks; laws prohibiting abortion coverage in state health-insurance exchanges; and laws that defund family-planning centers.

Since 1995, states have enacted more than 700 anti-choice measures cumulatively. Each of these measures interferes with a woman’s right to make her own private, personal decisions about her reproductive health. And state governments continue to be dominated by anti-choice politicians, which likely means the trend of legislative attacks on reproductive freedom will continue in the year ahead.

Keenan said the report outlines a similar combination of progress and setbacks at the state level, including the following highlights:

Anti-Choice Attacks:

  • 25 states enacted 42 anti-choice measures in 2012. (Readers of the book will note that the numbers are slightly different. That’s because in late 2012, two states enacted two additional measures.) 
  • Arizona enacted the most anti-choice legislation in 2012, with four measures. Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin each enacted three anti-choice measures.
  • Since 1995, states have enacted 755 anti-choice measures.
  • 24 states earned a “F” on the women’s reproductive rights report card.

Pro-Choice Progress:

  • 6 states enacted 8 pro-choice measures in 2012.
  • Vermont enacted the most pro-choice legislation in 2012, with 3 measures.
  • 2012 marks the eighth year in a row that Colorado has enacted a pro-choice measure.

Keenan also pointed out states like Arizona, Georgia, and Louisiana enacted bans on abortion care after 20 weeks that are clearly unconstitutional and designed as a challenge to Roe v. Wade. And states like Alabama, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wisconsin enacted abortion-coverage bans in the states’ health-insurance exchanges. 

“This is why elections matter,” Keenan continued. “Women continue to face legislative hostility in states dominated by anti-choice politicians. We may have won some battles but anti-choice politicians attack this right relentlessly – if we allow them. It is incumbent upon us to educate the public on these anti-choice tactics and hold these extreme politicians accountable.”

Keenan also noted that this edition of the Who Decides? is dedicated to women of the Obama administration, whose courage, political savvy, and tenacity helped to improve the status of women. Among these leaders are: Hillary Rodham Clinton, secretary of state; Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services; Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the president; Melody Barnes and Cecilia Muñoz, directors of the domestic policy council; Tina Tchen, chief of staff to the first lady; and Nancy-Ann DeParle, deputy chief of staff for policy.

Who Decides?, which includes a summary of federal and state laws as well as state rankings and states, may be found at: The Congressional Record on Choice, which includes a record of choice-related votes taken in the 112th Congress, may be found at:


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NARAL Pro-Choice America and its network of state affiliates are dedicated to protecting and expanding reproductive freedom for all Americans. NARAL works to guarantee that every woman has the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion. In recognition of its work defending our constitutional right to choose, Fortune Magazine described NARAL as "one of the top 10 advocacy groups in America."

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