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States Increasingly 'Hostile' To Abortion Rights in Recent Years, Guttmacher Report Finds

States Increasingly 'Hostile' To Abortion Rights in Recent Years, Guttmacher Report Finds

January 6, 2015 — States passed 231 antiabortion-rights laws from 2011 to 2014, during which time the number of states deemed "extremely hostile" to abortion rights has increased more than threefold, according to a new report by the Guttmacher Institute, the Washington Post's "GovBeat" reports.

The report found that 15 states passed a total of 26 antiabortion-rights laws in 2014. By comparison, states passed 70 abortion restrictions in 2013 and more than 80 in 2011.

Guttmacher researchers attributed the decline to other policy issues that competed for lawmakers' time, shorter legislative sessions in some states and the fact that four states' legislatures were out of session in 2014 (Chokshi, "GovBeat," Washington Post, 1/5). The legislatures that were not in session included those in North Dakota and Texas, where state lawmakers tend to be among the most opposed to abortion rights, according to U.S. News & World Report's "Data Mine" (Sneed, "Data Mine," U.S. News & World Report, 1/5).

Meanwhile, state lawmakers proposed 95 bills to expand abortion rights in 2014, the largest number since 1990. However, only four such bills were passed into law.

Increase in 'Hostile' States

In addition, the report found that the number of states considered "hostile" to abortion rights -- defined as those with at least four abortion restrictions -- increased from 13 states in 2000 to 22 states in 2010 and 27 states in 2014. Meanwhile, the percentage of U.S. women living in states hostile to abortion rights increased from 31% in 2000 to 57% in 2014.

The authors wrote, "The entire South is now considered hostile to abortion rights, and much of the South, along with much of the Midwest, is extremely hostile to abortion rights."

Further, researchers found that 18 of the 27 "hostile" states in 2014 were "extremely hostile" to abortion rights, meaning that they had at least six abortion restrictions in place, up from five such states in 2010 ("GovBeat," Washington Post, 1/5).

More Abortion Restrictions Expected in 2015

Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues associate at Guttmacher, said, "The fact that we usually see a higher number of abortion restrictions in the year after an election, that the November 2014 elections shifted some state legislatures further to the right, and the renewed energy around abortion in Congress indicates that abortion will be hotly debated in state legislatures this year." She added, "Some state legislatures already have abortion restrictions on the agenda including Texas, Tennessee, Wisconsin and South Carolina" ("Data Mine," U.S. News & World Report, 1/5).