New Report Shows How States Accelerated Protections for Abortion Access in 2019; 34 States Enact 94 Proactive Reproductive Health and Rights Bills in 2019

July 8, 2019
Contact: Marisa Rodriguez, [email protected], 956-607-9952

The National Institute for Reproductive Health’s (NIRH) “Gaining Ground” Report Highlights an Unprecedented Wave of State Action to Protect and Advance Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

In Direct Response to the Actions of Anti-Abortion Legislators, States Led the Passage of Some of the Boldest and Most Progressive Reproductive Health Laws in a Generation

NEW YORK, NY – Anti-abortion legislation that has swept the country this year has accelerated a state-led countermovement: advocates and legislators in 34 states have enacted 94 bills since January in an increasing effort to protect and expand access to reproductive health care. In “Gaining Ground: 2019 Midyear Report”, the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) highlighted increasing momentum across 49 states and the District of Columbia, which introduced a record 831 bills introduced in the first six months of the year to advance abortion and contraceptive access, improve maternal health outcomes, support the reproductive health and well-being of incarcerated women, support parents and families, and prohibit discrimination based on reproductive decisions.

“2019 is proving to be a watershed year at the state level, with states passing more protections for reproductive health, rights, and justice – including abortion access – than in any previous year,” said Andrea Miller, President of the National Institute for Reproductive Health. “As anti-abortion attacks across the country draw national attention, they are also fueling and accelerating the growing proactive effort to safeguard reproductive freedom. What we’re seeing now is an increase in support for abortion protections, making clear that reproductive health, rights, and justice will be central to the national conversation as we head into the 2020 election.”

According to “Gaining Ground: 2019 Midyear Report,” the first six months of 2019 saw a nearly 30 percent increase in proactive legislation passed compared with the halfway mark last year, and more than double the number of bills introduced overall. NIRH is working with state and local advocacy partners in 25 states in 2019 to achieve policy wins that improve residents’ reproductive lives across all of the focus areas analyzed in the report.

The report identifies key trends that emerged in the first half of 2019, including:

  • Passage of 10 proactive laws supporting abortion access in six states: Following New York’s passage of the Reproductive Health Act, anti-abortion politicians led by Donald Trump waged a campaign of misinformation and legislative extremism, passing abortion bans across the country. Six states (CA, IL, ME, NV, NY, and VT) have taken bold action this year to pass protections, such as codifying the fundamental right to abortion and expanding insurance coverage. Rhode Island enacted a bill protecting abortion access after publication of the NIRH report.
  • Signs of momentum across the country: Across 25 states (including red states like Alabama, Missouri, Arizona, Georgia, Texas, and Indiana), progressive legislators introduced bills to protect abortion access specifically — proving that advocates and elected officials are increasingly willing to speak out for access in their communities.
  • Expansions of access to contraception: Eight states (MD, ME, ND, NM, NV, NY, WA, WV) enacted bills to expand access to contraception, including by expanding insurance coverage.
  • Efforts to improve maternal health outcomes: Ten states (AR, CO, ID, MD, NJ, NM, NV, OK, VA, and WA) have already enacted bills to create or expand maternal mortality review committees, doubling the number created in 2018.
  • Protections for incarcerated women: Seventeen bills were enacted in 13 states to address the reproductive health care needs of incarcerated women. In many cases, these bills go further than many of their predecessors in bridging reproductive freedom and criminal justice reform, such as prohibiting solitary confinement for pregnant or postpartum women.

NIRH publishes research twice each year on the proactive legislation to protect and expand access to reproductive freedom in states across the country. In January 2020, NIRH will release its sixth annual year-in-review report, detailing trends and lessons learned through the entirety of 2019, including updates on the laws and trends found here.


The National Institute for Reproductive Health builds power at the state and local level to change public policy, galvanize public support, and normalize women’s decisions about abortion and contraception.

Using a partnership model, NIRH provides state and local advocates with strategic guidance, hands-on support, and funding to create national change from the ground up. We form strategic partnerships with a wide range of organizations to directly impact the reproductive health and lives of women across the country. Each year, NIRH works in at least 20 states and more than a dozen localities; to date, NIRH has partnered with more than 170 reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations in 43 states and 64 localities across the country.