Right now, the ability to access abortion feels more precarious than at any time in the last half century. And these attacks are part of a bigger movement to limit freedom and autonomy.
The National Institute for Reproductive Health’s 2021 Midyear Report, Gaining Ground, details the progress states made so far this year in advancing reproductive rights, health, and justice in the face of these attacks on reproductive freedom.
While in 2020, state legislatures grinded to a halt at the height of the pandemic, this year they have resumed their momentum from 2019, passing laws that will advance reproductive freedom across the board. Big trends so far this year track with NIRH’s core 2021 priorities to pass laws that will protect and expand abortion access, and address racial disparities in maternal health. We were proud to work alongside partners in several states to pass these bills.
In the first half of 2021, 49 states and the District of Columbia (DC) introduced 1014 pieces of proactive legislation to secure abortion rights, expand access to care to all who need it, and address many of the racial and economic disparities laid bare by the pandemic. Overall, 85 bills were fully enacted, including 11 bills to protect and expand abortion access.
So far in 2021 the following states removed barriers and expanded access to abortion care:
- Colorado revised its restrictions on Medicaid coverage of abortion, although a constitutional ban on Medicaid coverage for most abortion care remains in place
- Connecticut prohibited crisis pregnancy centers from using deceptive advertising
- Hawaii authorized qualified advance practice registered nurses to perform first trimester abortions
- New Mexico repealed a 1969 law that criminalized abortion, which had been dormant since Roe v. Wade, ensuring that it cannot be used to threaten New Mexico providers and their patients if Roe v. Wade is further weakened or overturned.
- Virginia repealed a state law that prohibited inclusion of abortion coverage in private health insurance plans. Virginia also reaffirmed its commitment to including abortion as part of comprehensive reproductive health care, commissioning a review of the health services that are provided to incarcerated pregnant people, including abortion.
- Washington State extended its insurance coverage requirement for abortion and maternity care to student health plans
States also worked to address racial disparities in maternal health:
- Arizona, Indiana, Kentucky, North Dakota, New Mexico, Nevada, and Virginia all passed legislation establishing and/or enhancing the work of maternal health and mortality commissions, including efforts to directly address racial and ethnic disparities in care
- Several states passed legislation to expand access to a wider range of birthing-related providers: Arizona created a doula certification process, Connecticut defined doulas in statute and commissioned a study to determine whether the Department of Public Health should establish a state certification process, Maine required insurance coverage for certified midwife services, and Virginia built out a certification process for licensed midwives.
- Maryland, Washington, and West Virginia all passed bills that expand public insurance coverage for a person who gives birth, up to one year after the birth of a child. Similar moves are underway in Illinois and Texas.
Download the full report here.
Read our press release here.