Amid Threats to Roe v. Wade, Some States Are Expanding Access to Abortion
By Miriam Berg | Jan. 21, 2022, 3:36 p.m.
May 2022 Update: See Kaiser Family Foundation's issue brief "State Actions to Protect and Expand Access to Abortion Services"
Several states have passed groundbreaking laws that safeguard residents’ right to legally and safely access abortion — no matter what happens at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Roe v. Wade, the case that established the right to legal abortion in the U.S., is at risk of being overturned by the Supreme Court. But we shouldn’t forget that lawmakers in several states have stepped up to ensure abortion remains safe and legal for their residents. The proactive laws they’ve championed not only protect abortion access, but EXPAND access.
These accomplishments came in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, and demonstrate the power of the reproductive rights movement.
Recent State Efforts to Protect and Expand Abortion Access
In January 2022, New Jersey passed proactive legislation to protect the right to abortion. And in 2021, an additional five states enacted laws to expand access to abortion.
Delaware and New Mexico repealed abortion restrictions.
Hawaii repealed restrictions to expand the types of clinicians who can provide abortion.
Colorado, Virginia, and Washington state improved health care coverage for abortion.
Other State Efforts to Expand Access
In previous years, reproductive rights champions in other state legislatures also enacted sweeping laws to protect and expand abortion access. These landmark laws treat abortion as what it is: health care.
- Enacted in 2020, Virginia’s Reproductive Health Protection Act (RHPA) removed key abortion restrictions and expanded the types of qualified clinicians who can provide abortions. That same year, Washington, D.C.’s Strengthening Reproductive Health Protections Amendment Act protected the right to abortion and barred government interference — including prosecution for self-managed abortion. Meanwhile, Massachusetts passed a law that protects the right to abortion and expands access to it.
In 2019, New York, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Vermont all enacted laws to solidify abortion’s legal status. These laws affirmed abortion as a fundamental right; protected access when abortion is needed later in pregnancy; and opened the door to allowing more qualified clinicians, including physician assistants and advanced practice nurses, to provide safe and legal abortions.
Take Action: Support Equal Access to Abortion
These advancements are crucial, and we need more of them. Join us in the fight to create a world in which access to abortion is a reality for everyone.