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Half of States Fail Reproductive-Rights Report Card; Some Show Promise on Pro-Choice Laws

January 15, 2014 — On Tuesday, two groups on opposite sides of the abortion-rights debate released reports grading states on abortion-related legislation, Politico Pro reports.

The reports from NARAL Pro-Choice America and Americans United for Life highlight how one organization's victories can be another's low points, with the states at the bottom of AUL's rankings receiving "A" grades in NARAL's report (Villacorta, Politico Pro, 1/14).

NARAL Report Details

The NARAL report, which focused on all reproductive-rights legislation enacted in 2013, gave the U.S. a grade of "D" overall and also graded each state individually. Half of states received an "F."

North Dakota, where 98% of counties do not offer abortion services, ranked last. NARAL gave California an "A+" for passing four laws that expanded abortion access in 2013.

NARAL President Ilyse Hogue said in the report, "The anti-choice War on Women did not slow down in 2013," adding, "Lawmakers passed bills that closed clinics, put new obstacles in the way of women seeking abortion care, and outright banned aborting after 20, 12 or as early as six weeks" (Kuhr, "Swampland," Time, 1/14).

NARAL Policy Director Donna Crane added that only seven states have "fully pro-choice state governments," compared with 21 that are "fully anti-choice" (May, Daily Caller, 1/14).

AUL Report Details

Meanwhile, the AUL report praised Louisiana, North Carolina and Texas as the three "most improved" states in restricting abortion. All three states passed additional restrictions on abortion providers last year.

AUL gave its lowest rankings to California, Hawaii and Vermont, which passed some of the 16 state laws expanding abortion access in 2013.

Abortion-Rights Advocates' Plan for 2014

NARAL Political Director Erika West on Tuesday said the organization is increasing its focus on state elections to combat the recent increase in state abortion restrictions. Although the group has not outlined specific plans, West said NARAL will get more involved in state legislative and gubernatorial races, similar to its work in Virginia last year (Politico Pro, 1/14).

According to The Nation, the group will focus on races in states where the majority control is closely contested, with full media and field campaigns in potentially six states and involvement in dozens of others (Carpenter, The Nation, 1/14).

Crane also commented on NARAL's plans, saying, "Opponents of legal abortion have become highly skilled at identifying the levers of power in states and at the federal level and placing their people there."

West added, "So in 2014, [NARAL] is investing in building firewalls where these attacks are taking hold" (Daily Caller, 1/14).