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Worst U.S. states for reproductive rights in 2014

It’s been 40 years since Roe v. Wade, and reproductive health care is regressing. Politicians nationwide have enacted more than 200 laws since 2011 to make it more difficult for women to access abortion services.

In nearly 30 states, politicians claim that restrictions on abortions protect the health and safety of American women — this, despite opposition from the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and reproductive rights activists everywhere.

“It is critical to look closely at what is happening in states where an alarming number of abortion restrictions are either in place or being proposed,” says Kelly Blanchard, president of Ibis Reproductive Health. “Our analysis shows that many policymakers working to restrict abortions are ignoring the evidence about what policies are well-documented to improve women’s and children’s lives.”

Advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America gives a grade of F to the states that do the least to support reproductive rights. Is your state one of them?

Texas is “the worst state for women’s reproductive rights,” says Andrew Herrault, owner of Equality Mag, an online magazine that promotes equal rights for all people. “Texas recently closed more than half the abortion clinics and now has only seven for the entire state,” adds Herrault. “Couple that with the [last] election, and you’ve got a recipe for a women’s rights disaster.”

Oklahoma has the maximum number of abortion restrictions as well as the nation’s worst outcomes for women’s and children’s health, including high maternal mortality rates, higher infant and child mortality rates, higher uninsured rates and lower rates of preventive care.

In a press release on Oct. 28, 2014, the Center for Reproductive Rights reported on North Dakota‘s decision to uphold a law that severely restricts medication abortion — a non-surgical method of ending a pregnancy in its earliest stages. Of women who choose to end a pregnancy in the first nine weeks, an estimated one in four chooses this non-surgical method.

“The politicians pushing for these unconstitutional and dangerous restrictions have only one goal in mind,” says Nancy Northup, president and C.E.O. of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “To prevent North Dakota women — who already face incredible obstacles to the severely limited reproductive health care services in their state — from exercising their legal right to abortion.” North Dakota has just one abortion clinic.

In Arizona, the problems begin early. School boards support the removal of birth control and abortion information from student textbooks. Sixty-seven percent of the counties have no abortion clinic, and the state has criminal bans on abortion. Additionally, women seeking abortion services in Arizona are subject to biased counseling requirements and mandatory delays.

“Women do not need any more laws that pretend to protect their health and safety while putting both in jeopardy,” says Northup. “It’s time these politicians check their priorities and finally be held accountable to the women and children of their states.”

The federal Women’s Health Protection Act (S. 1696/H.R. 3471) is a bill that would prohibit states from imposing unconstitutional restrictions on health care providers that interfere with women’s personal decision making and block access to safe and legal abortion services.

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