Tracking Proactive State Abortion PolicylshramkoMay 31, 2019
In 2019, while some states have moved with unprecedented hostility to ban abortion, many states are moving proactive legislation that safeguards the right to and access to abortion care.
As the national landscape shifts, it is crucial to promote state policies that proactively advance and protect reproductive rights, health, and justice. NIRH works nationally to advance policies protecting and expanding access to abortion and contraception at the state and local levels. See our 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 proactive policy reports for a detailed account of the progress that many states have made in introducing, moving, passing, and enacting legislation that proactively advances reproductive rights, health, and justice year-by-year.
Below you can find the latest proactive abortion policy in states across the country.
Ongoing Proactive Legislation 2019
Bills that have passed the state legislature
The Reproductive Health Act (IL S 25) protects access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion. Specifically, the Reproductive Health Act recognizes that each person has a fundamental right to make decisions about reproductive health care, including abortion, and treats abortion like all other health care, not as a crime. The Reproductive Health Act builds on the successful passage of HB40 in Illinois in 2017.
ME LD 820 / ME H 594, Discrimination in Public and Private Insurance Coverage, was signed into law by the Governor. This will expand MaineCare coverage for abortion.
ME LD 1261 / H 922 was signed into law by the Governor. This bill allows qualified health care providers, operating within their scope of practice, to provide abortion care. That means a physician assistant or an advanced practice registered nurse licensed as such in this state can provide abortion care, in accordance with their training and expertise.
The Abortion Provisions bill (NV S 179) decriminalizes self-managed abortion so that women do not risk prosecution for ending a pregnancy. It was signed into law on May 31, 2019.
NJ S 1761 / A 1651, the Address Confidentiality Program, passed both chambers. This bill will keep reproductive health providers’ (provider, staff, volunteers) and patients’ personal information private to prevent harassment.
NIRH worked for more than a decade to pass the Reproductive Health Act in New York, and it was signed into law on January 22, 2019. Thanks to the Reproductive Health Act, New York State now treats abortion as health care, not a criminal act; qualified health care providers can now provide safe abortion care without fear of punishment; and women can access abortion care in New York throughout their pregnancies if their health is at risk. Learn more about the RHA here
RI HB 5125, the Reproductive Privacy Act, was signed into law by the Governor. This bill will ensure that no governmental entity can interfere with an individual’s decision to end a pregnancy prior to viability or afterward when necessary to preserve the person’s health or life, or with an individual’s decision to continue a pregnancy. The bill will also ensure that the state can not restrict the use of evidence-based medicine in the provision of abortion or contraception.
VT H 57, Right to Abortion, was signed into law by the Governor. This bill recognizes that each person has a fundamental right to make decisions about reproductive health care, including abortion and ensures that those rights are not denied, restricted, or infringed by a governmental entity.
Bills still pending in state legislatures
CA S 24, the Student Health Centers: Abortion by Medication Bill, would require public universities to provide medication abortion at on-campus student health centers.
MA H 3320 / S 1209, ROE Act, would enshrine the right to abortion in state law; remove barriers such as mandatory parental consent and an unenforced mandatory 24-hour waiting period; fix Massachusetts’ overly narrow health exception; and establish safety net coverage for abortion care for people who don’t have health insurance.
Enacted Proactive Legislation 2018
In 2018, the Massachusetts legislature passed Senate Bill 2260, long-overdue proactive legislation to decriminalize abortion. This win is significant because it overturns archaic statutes that have been used to prosecute women who self-manage their own abortions. With this win, Massachusetts pushed back against a hostile anti-choice federal landscape and laid the groundwork to further to enshrine the full range of protections for abortion access in Massachusetts law. NIRH worked closely with NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts on the effort to decriminalize abortion in Massachusetts, providing funding, communications support and strategic guidance. NIRH worked closely with NARAL Massachusetts to get this bill across the finish line. Learn more about this bill here
Senate Bill 6219 was signed by Governor Jay Inslee, and expanded coverage for abortion care by requiring any insurance plan covering maternity care to also cover abortion services. The bill created insurance coverage parity in the state to help ensure that women have a more financially equitable choice between abortion and continuing a pregnancy, while also serving as a step toward a longer-term campaign to require abortion coverage in all plans for all residents.
Enacted Proactive Legislation 2017
Delaware enacted Senate Bill 5, which repeals unconstitutional parts of the state’s pre-Roe abortion law and establishes clear protections for abortion access in the future—a victory for the coalition of state advocates and religious leaders led by the ACLU of Delaware and Planned Parenthood of Delaware.
In 2017, Idaho was forced to repeal a previously enacted restriction on access to medication abortion through telemedicine (a promising way to deliver medical care to rural residents who may not live close to a health care provider). After a court order found it to be unconstitutional, Idaho enacted House Bill 250, which repealed the restrictions on telemedicine and allows for telehealth prescription of medication abortion.
In the face of expanded federal restrictions on abortion funding, the Illinois legislature passed House Bill 40, which restores public insurance coverage for abortion for Medicaid recipients and state employees. State Representative Sara Feigenholtz, the bill’s sponsor, said that passing the bill was “a victory for every woman in our state because it protects every woman’s right to choose.”
In Oregon, the Reproductive Health Equity Act (House Bill 3391) was enacted, ensuring coverage for the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion, for all Oregonians regardless of their income or citizenship status. This was the latest version of a comprehensive coverage policy that has been supported by the Pro-Choice Coalition of Oregon since 2015.