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Celebrating 2020 Victories + Anticipating 2021 Fights

After a year of crises like we’ve never seen before, RFLC members demonstrated resilience and tenacity in their continued fights for reproductive freedom.

We saw Virginia RFLC members like Sen. Jennifer McClellan pass the Reproductive Health Protection Act, making Virginia the first state in the South to proactively protect a woman’s access to abortion care and reproductive health.

We saw Ohio Rep. Tavia Galonski standing up for abortion as essential healthcare when the state ordered clinics to stop providing care.

We saw Washington RFLC members like Sen. Monica Stonier and Sen. Claire Wilson pass comprehensive sex education legislation ensuring students receive age appropriate, medically accurate, inclusive sex education that includes affirmative consent.

We saw RFLC member Tennessee Rep. London Lamar pass a bill that allows HOPE Scholarship recipients who become pregnant to maintain their scholarship eligibility after the pregnancy.

We saw RFLC member Louisiana Rep. Mandie Landry pass a bill that was the first change to the existing solitary confinement law in over 200 years in her state and that bans solitary confinement for inmates who are pregnant, who recently gave birth or who are caring for children while in custody.

And we’ve heard how RFLC members are anticipating challenges and preparing for a future where their constituents can thrive. Based on what we’ve heard from RFLC members, here are our reproductive health, rights, and justice state legislative predictions for 2021:

Responding to a changed U.S. Supreme Court:

  • Since Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, both NJ and MA have taken steps and addressed pushback to further protect legal abortion rights, and more states will use this development to solicit momentum. Additionally, some states still have outdated laws on the books that criminalize abortion care and could cause harm if the U.S. Supreme Court guts or overturns Roe v. Wade.
Addressing the economy’s impact on family planning:
  • Families are feeling the economic effects of COVID-19, and states can repeal existing insurance bans for public employees and those who qualify for public insurance programs, while also increasing and ensuring expanded contraceptive access.
  • States facing revenue shortfalls must remain grounded in our values of using government for the good of the people.
Focusing on medication abortion:
  • As the pandemic continues, people who need abortion care will continue to be compelled by the idea of receiving this care outside a clinic setting, and states can take significant actions to expand access. Other states will continue to try to restrict broader medication abortion access for political, not medical, reasons.
Banning abortion:
  • Whether it’s trying to ban abortion at an arbitrary point in pregnancy, or banning abortion for the reasons someone might be seeking one, antiabortion legislators will continue pushing the envelope in a race to the bottom. Though abortion remains legal in all states, and previous attempts to ban abortion early in pregnancy have been rejected by the courts, conservative state legislators have already begun pre-filing additional abortion bans.
  • One year ago, SiX took a delegation of lawmakers from states hostile to abortion to El Salvador on a fact-finding mission of the devastation families and communities experience when abortion is banned (their journey documented by CBS here). State legislators are increasingly beginning to see how the fight for reproductive freedom is an international fight and will use this experience to repeal pre-Roe statutes, reject forced parental consent bills, and challenge other harmful legislation in their own states.
Addressing racism as an urgent public health crisis.
  • States will continue to address the Black maternal health crisis through the creation of maternal mortality review committees, data collection projects, and more. Anti-bias Black maternal health bills are being pre-filed in states like Kentucky and states will increasingly follow the lead in creating caucuses in the mold of Ohio’s Black Maternal Health Caucus.
  • The movement for Black lives and the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on Black and brown communities means state lawmakers must address the public health crisis that racism presents. States will keep pushing to declare racism a public health crisis as we saw across many states this year with resolutions to raise awareness on the public health impacts of racism and by centering racial equity in legislation to both reverse 400 years of systemic oppression and institutional racism and to proactively prevent future racist and discriminatory outcomes.
Moving beyond the legality of Roe and instead ensuring that everyone — no matter their income, race, gender, sexuality, or ability —  can access affordable, comprehensive care in the communities where they live.
  • Everyone benefits when more qualified health care providers can safely provide quality early abortion care. States will continue to ensure more qualified providers can provide abortion care.
  • A growing number of affiliations with religious entities include restrictions that hospitals and clinics have set up that turn away patients or dangerously delay their treatment. This is disproportionately harmful to women, the LGBTQ community, people of color, rural residents and people with limited resources. States like Washington are primed to re-introduce legislation that prevents health entities from interfering with a qualified healthcare practitioner’s ability to provide patients with emergency complications related to miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.
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