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New Report Showing Spike in Abortion Restrictions Underscores Urgent Need to Protect Access

Contact: Planned Parenthood Action Fund Media Office, 212-261-4433

For Immediate Release: 01.05.15

“As we look ahead to what will surely be another tough year for women’s health, our focus is on making sure women have access to the care they need and are able to make their own health care decisions,” Cecile Richards

WASHINGTON, DC — New data released today, showing that in the last four years states have enacted 231 restrictions on abortion, underscores the urgent need to protect access to safe and legal abortion at the state and federal levels in 2015, Planned Parenthood said today. According to the report, during the 2014 legislative session, lawmakers introduced 335 provisions aimed at restricting access to safe, legal abortion.

The report, from the independent reproductive health research organization the Guttmacher Institute, comes as many state legislatures gear up to start new sessions this month — and comes amid a growing national consensus that politicians should not interfere with access to safe and legal abortion. The restrictions passed in 2014 have significantly limited women’s ability to access abortion services, by enacting hurdles like mandatory waiting periods that have no medical basis and by forcing some health care providers to shut down completely, leaving women with nowhere to turn.

Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“This report shows that the right to safe and legal abortion exists in name only for far too many women in America today, particularly low-income women who are hurt most by these restrictions that require people to drive hundreds of miles and make multiple trips for no medical reason. We see firsthand the consequences of politicians inserting themselves into women’s personal health care decisions, from women who come to Planned Parenthood health centers after traveling long distances or delay seeking care because they can’t access it.

Politicians are not medical experts, but politicians have written these laws with the ultimate goal of making safe, legal abortion hard or even impossible to access. These laws actually endanger women and are deeply unpopular with the American public.

“As we look ahead to what will surely be another tough year for women’s health, our focus is on making sure women have access to the care they need and are able to make their own health care decisions. In the months ahead, we’ll work alongside our supporters on the ground to defeat dangerous restrictions and instead pass laws to expand access for reproductive health care and affordable birth control.

In the report, researchers found:

  • During the 2014 state legislative session, lawmakers introduced 335 provisions aimed at restricting access to abortion. By the end of the year, 15 states had enacted 26 new abortion restrictions. Including these new provisions, states have adopted 231 new abortion restrictions since the 2010 midterm elections swept abortion opponents into power in state capitals across the country.
  • Bucking this tide, legislators in 17 states introduced 95 measures designed to expand access to abortion, more positive measures than in any year since 1990.
  • The large number of recently enacted abortion restrictions has dramatically reshaped the landscape for women seeking an abortion. In 2000, 13 states had four or five types of abortion restrictions in effect and so were considered hostile to abortion rights. By 2010, 22 states were considered hostile to abortion rights; five that were extremely hostile. By 2014, the number of hostile states has increased to 27, and of those, 18 are extremely hostile. The entire South is now considered hostile to abortion rights, and much of the South, along with much of the Midwest, is extremely hostile to abortion rights.
  • The proportion of women living in hostile states has surged as well. In 2000, 31 percent of women of reproductive age lived in a state hostile to abortion rights, with no women living in a state with enough restrictions to be considered extremely hostile.  By 2014, 57 percent of women lived in a state that is either hostile or extremely hostile to abortion rights.


  • Leading medical groups including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose laws intended to restrict access — because they pose a risk to women’s health by reducing access to safe and legal abortion.
  • Courts are recognizing that these types of laws hurt women and in the last several months blocked restrictions in Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas.
  • Forty years after the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Roe v. Wade, significantly more Americans want the landmark abortion decision kept in place rather than overturned, 53 percent to 29 percentSix in 10 young Americans believe abortion should be available in all or most cases, and 68 percent believe it should be available in their own community.
  • In November, when voters had the chance to vote directly on anti-women’s health measures, they rejected them soundly. Voters in Colorado and North Dakota rejected “personhood” measures with large majorities.  Voters defeated a key state house sponsor of the North Dakota personhood legislation, as well as one of the bill’s most outspoken advocates.
  • In key battleground states, nearly 6 in 10 voters reported that protecting women’s access to health care was a very important issue to them in deciding how to vote.
  • Voters also recognized that abortion access is connected to women’s financial stability. Over 80 percent of voters in New York and Pennsylvania agree that a woman’s ability to control whether and when she has children is a fundamental component of women’s equality. 

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.