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New Report: 2016 a Pivotal Year for Women's Reproductive Rights, with Many Battles Ahead

Supreme Court victory in Whole Woman’s Health highlight of a year marked by change and challenges. State politicians introduce more than 500 bills restricting access to reproductive health care in 2016, enacting over 60 new restrictions.


Women across the nation saw their constitutional right to safe, legal abortion reaffirmed in 2016, yet continue to face obstacles accessing the full range of reproductive health care services and will continue to face challenges in 2017--according to a new report from the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The report--State of the States: A Pivotal Time for Reproductive Rights--provides a state-by-state summary of reproductive health restrictions passed in 2016. While the report highlights the historic victory in Whole Woman's Health v Hellerstedt--the landmark Supreme Court ruling which reaffirmed a woman's right to safe and legal abortion in a legal challenge to two Texas laws brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights--the report also analyzes the more than 60 restrictions which were enacted that would restrict access to reproductive health care. 2016 marks the fifth year that politicians in statehouses across the country doubled down on further restricting access to contraception and abortion, with over 500 restrictions introduced this year alone; there have been over 2,000 new reproductive health restrictions introduced since 2011.

Specifically, the report outlines attempts by politicians to ban abortion in Oklahoma and Ohio, while also discussing a new wave of restrictions which undermine women's dignity and threaten their abortion access by forcing the cremation or burial of fetal or embryonic tissue. Louisiana and Texas were among the handful of states which advanced this type of restriction this year. Fortunately, due to successful litigation from the Center for Reproductive Rights, neither the Louisiana or Texas measures are in effect.

"2016 was a pivotal year for women's access to safe and legal abortion, with the Supreme Court issuing the most important abortion rights ruling in a generation in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

"As we embark on 2017, we must hold our leaders accountable to the Constitutional protections guaranteed in Whole Woman's Health. A woman's ability to access basic reproductive health care services like contraception or a safe, legal abortion are essential to her health and well-being. It's more important now than ever that elected officials at all levels of government stand up against this decades-long crusade to eliminate women's reproductive health care services."

The report also provides an overview of major developments in the courts regarding unconstitutional intrusions on the right to safe and legal abortion, specifically noting victories for women's health and access secured by the Center for Reproductive Rights in states ranging from Kansas to Arizona to Florida.

Finally, the report also outlines the proactive strategies state lawmakers advanced to improve access to reproductive health care, noting the nearly 300 introduced measures which expand access to vital health care services. Notably, nearly every state this year considered measures which would increase access to contraception, with bills expanding access to birth control becoming law in 8 states.

The Center for Reproductive Rights is a global human rights organization of lawyers and advocates who ensure reproductive rights are protected in law as fundamental human rights for the dignity, equality, health, and well-being of every person.

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