National Partnership for Women & Families

Issues We Track

State legislatures around the country are considering and have enacted a record number of restrictions on women's reproductive health care. The issues below are some of the most common types of laws and regulations.

ABORTION »

The majority of state attacks on reproductive health have targeted access to abortion care. Some efforts are bans on specific procedures or bans based on gestational age or the reasons the woman is seeking an abortion. Insurance coverage for abortion has also come under attack with laws limiting both private and public insurance coverage. Other efforts put barriers between women and abortion care by interfering with aspects of a woman's medical care, for example with medication abortion and TRAP laws. This includes requiring medically unnecessary procedures, such as mandatory ultrasounds, as well as waiting periods, biased counseling and parental involvement laws, all of which delay or impede women from accessing abortion services and add significant emotional stress and expense to the process. This also includes laws and litigation around crisis pregnancy centers (CPC), which interfere with women's access to adequate health care services.

PERSONHOOD »

Bills and ballot initiatives on personhood aim to redefine how state constitutions interpret the word "person" with some pinpointing personhood as beginning at fertilization and others conception. If successful, these initiatives would not only ban abortion, but also put into question the legality of a number of forms of birth control as well as in-vitro fertilization and other reproductive technologies. More

REFUSAL PROVISIONS »

Many states have or are considering laws that allow health providers to refuse to provide certain medical services that violate their moral or religious beliefs. Although these laws originally focused primarily on abortion and sterilization services, in recent years they have been expanding. States have passed laws to allow pharmacists to refuse to provide emergency contraception to women who need it, and current efforts have focused on allowing medical professionals to deny access to contraception and other medical care with which they disagree. These provisions put women’s health at risk, and are especially dangerous for women in rural areas or small towns where there are few medical providers or pharmacies. More

FAMILY PLANNING »

A number of states have made or are considering significant cuts to family planning services. Some states have also barred family planning funds from going to clinics that are affiliated with providers that offer abortion services, such as Planned Parenthood. These restrictions limit access to important preventive health services such as contraception, cervical and breast cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment, simply because the facilities also provide abortion care or referrals. States also prohibit facilities that receive state funds from hiring doctors who provide abortion care, even if not at that facility, causing them to lose medical staff. More

SEX EDUCATION »

Both through state budgets and legislation the struggle continues to ensure that teens have access to comprehensive sex education, as opposed to abstinence only education. Comprehensive sex education is proven to help teens make healthier decisions when and if they have sex. More

OTHER ISSUES »

Unfortunately, the long list of provisions states are passing and considering to restrict women’s access to reproductive health care is not comprehensive. State legislatures are constantly coming up with new and creative ways to impose obstacles between women and high-quality health care. More