But it’s hardly time to break out the champagne. While this year is looking better than the last few, according to Guttmacher’s new numbers on state anti-choice laws, abortion access is still under attack in the states.
So far this year, 13 states have adopted 21 new anti-choice laws–which is about half the number that had been enacted by this point last year. That’s an improvement–though the researchers partly attribute it to cyclical legislative trends–but the figure only really looks good in comparison to the record-breakingly awful last few years, when more abortion restrictions were enacted in three years than in the entire previous decade combined. On the other hand, a few states passed laws protecting abortion access and another handful expanded reproductive health care access.
While I’m hopeful that 2014 could mark a turning of the tide on state anti-choice restrictions, it’s important to note that the laws that are getting passed pose a significant threat to abortion access. While recent court rulings seem to have put a damper on some restrictions–like the 20-week abortion bans that had a moment of popularity–states are continuing to enact TRAP laws left and right. More than half of women of reproductive age now live in a state that has TRAP regulations. And, as we’ve seen, if they’re not stopped, in many parts of the country, these laws have the potential to thoroughly gut access–all by themselves–simply by shutting down clinics.
After all, the fact that you have to get an ultrasound or can’t use your insurance coverage is probably just the cherry on top of a shit sundae if the only abortion provider is 300 miles away from you.
Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.