By almost any measure, 2011 saw unprecedented attention to issues related to reproductive health and rights at the state level. In all 50 states, legislators introduced more than 1,100 reproductive health and rights-related provisions, a sharp increase from the 950 introduced in 2010. By year’s end, 135 of these provisions had been enacted in 36 states, again an increase from the 89 enacted in 2010 and the 77 enacted in 2009.
Fully 68% of these new provisions, 92 provisions in 24 states, restrict access to abortion services, a striking increase from last year, when 26% of new provisions restricted abortion. The 92 new abortion restrictions shattered the previous record of 34 abortion restrictions adopted in 2005.
Additionally, prohibitions on insurance coverage of abortion procedures have made it infinitely more difficult for working class women to have access to abortion services. While abortion may yet be legal on paper, women’s reproductive rights are being cut vigorously by right wing attacks that face little organized opposition from Democrats or even the official women’s organization, apart from e-mail blasts asking for donations and appeals to call unresponsive legislatures. Gone are the days when the mainstream women’s groups would organize mass demonstrations in the face of such unprecedented attacks.