Proactive abortion rights measures in 2017

Posted on August 30, 2017

This report focuses on proactive policy, that is, legislation to expand abortion rights in states and localities. We do so because proactive strategy must be a central component of our work, even in jurisdictions controlled by conservatives. Only a proactive strategy makes news, frames the debate, and dictates timing. Only a proactive strategy forces opponents to shift their resources and time to defend unpopular positions. Only a proactive strategy shapes the broader political environment.*


Oregon enacted HB 3391, the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which requires health insurance policies across the state to cover abortion, as well as contraception and other reproductive health services, at no cost to the patient.

Delaware enacted SB 1, which guarantees the right to abortion as laid out in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade. The bill also repeals obsolete anti-abortion statutes.

Hawaii enacted SB 501, which requires anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers to post and distribute notices about the availability of abortion and reproductive health services in the state. Crisis pregnancy centers are anti-abortion offices disguised to look like medical clinics which offer services such as pregnancy tests and prenatal sonograms, and lie about medical facts, all in an effort to stop women from having abortions.

Maryland enacted SB 1081, which will provide financial support to abortion clinics if federal funding is cut. On an emergency basis, California Treasurer John Chiang created a program similar to Maryland’s, making Community Clinic Lifeline Grants available to facilities that provide abortion services.

The Illinois House and Senate approved HB 40, which would allow Medicaid funding for most abortions, as well as insurance coverage of abortion for state employees. The legislation has not yet been sent to Governor Bruce Rauner who has taken different positions on the issue over the years.

The Colorado House passed HR 1005, which declares that abortion and other reproductive health care are essential rights for all residents.

The Austin, Texas City Council and Travis County, Texas Commissioners Court passed Abortion Is Health Care resolutions and the Mayor of Houston, Texas issued a proclamation declaring that Abortion Is Health Care.


In 2017, 133 proactive abortion rights measures were introduced in 33 states and four localities. That’s a 64 percent increase over 2016 when 81 proactive measures were introduced in 25 states.

A few states deserve special mention. In 2017, 8 proactive abortion rights measures were introduced in Arizona, 10 in Michigan, 10 in Missouri, and 11 in Texas.

The trend toward more proactive abortion rights legislation is likely to continue in 2018. So far, 52 legislators across 27 states have pledged to introduce such legislation in the 2018 legislative sessions.

* This report does not include either anti-abortion legislation that progressives seek to defeat or strictly “repealer” bills that would reverse previously enacted anti-abortion legislation, subjects that are fully addressed elsewhere.