May 11, 2015 — Oregon is the best state for reproductive rights, while South Dakota is the worst, according to an Institute for Women's Policy Research report, the Washington Post's "GovBeat" reports.
For the report, researchers evaluated all 50 states and Washington, D.C., based off nine indicators, including abortion accessibility, funding and political support and the availability of comprehensive sexuality education, among other metrics.
Further, the report weighed whether states imposed mandatory delays prior to abortions; had parental involvement rules for minors seeking an abortion; required insurers to cover infertility treatments; and expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) or via family planning expansions.
The report found that seven states and the District received an "A-" grade, the highest grade awarded. Meanwhile, 10 states received "B" grades, 20 states received "C" grades, nine states received "D" grades and Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota received "F" grades. Overall, the western and northeastern parts of the U.S. had the highest grades, while the southern and midwestern parts of the U.S. had the lowest grades.
Researchers found that 12 states as of June required insurers to cover treatments for infertility, up from nine states in 2004, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Two additional states require insurers to offer infertility coverage (Chokshi, "GovBeat," Washington Post, 5/7). Insurers in states that mandate coverage are required to include infertility coverage in their health plans. Meanwhile, insurers in states that have a "mandate to offer" are required to offer the infertility coverage, but individuals or groups purchasing policies can opt not to select such coverage (Kaiser Family Foundation fact sheet, 2014).
Meanwhile, the report found that changes in access to and politicians' support for abortion rights varied by state. The report found that the percentage of woman in counties with one or more abortion providers increased in 24 states but declined in 22 states, per an IWPR analysis of Guttmacher Institute data.
In addition, based on NARAL Pro-Choice America's rankings, researchers found that the percentage of governors and state legislatures who support abortion rights increased in 14 states and decreased in 22 states, while remaining the same in 14 states and the District. IWPR said both the governor and most state lawmakers support abortion rights in California, Connecticut, the District, Hawaii, Oregon and Vermont.
Further, the report found that the number of states requiring mandatory delays for women seeking abortions increased from 26 in 2004 to 30 this year, although four of the delays are not enforced.
IWPR also said reproductive rights remained largely the same since 2004 in regards to the number of states with parental involvement rules for minors seeking an abortion, the number of states that require sexuality education to be taught in schools and the number of states that make public funding available for low-income women seeking abortions (Chokshi, "GovBeat," Washington Post, 5/7).