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RFLC Research Spotlight: Pushing Back with Research and Evidence

As many of your states hit the mid-point of session, and bills start to ramp up in year-round legislatures, we are looking at the current trends in abortion policy and the research evidence at your disposal as policymakers.

In The Danger Ahead: Early Indicators Show States Will Be the Main Abortion Battleground in 2021, the Guttmacher Institute confirms what RFLC members are seeing across the country- an influx of restrictions on abortion from every angle. While many of these bills are blatant attempts to pass laws that will be challenged in the courts, there is a wealth of scientific evidence you can use to build a record and push back during the legislative process.

This week we look at the research and evidence on three common abortion restrictions. The next RFLC research spotlight will focus on the research supporting proactive measures.

As always, the SiX Repro team is here to provide assistance on any topic that you need more information on in the meantime!

 

PUSHING BACK WITH EVIDENCE

Below you’ll find a selection of three common types of state abortion restrictions and related scientific research. 

Parental Involvement/Consent and Judicial Bypass

Laws that require varying degrees of parental notification or approval for a minor to have an abortion -or- that require a minor to seek court approval to receive abortion care without parental knowledge.

 

Research shows:

Two-thirds of minors inform a parent, of their own accord, about their decision to get an abortion. State parental notification and involvement mandates jeopardize the health and safety of the vulnerable minority of young people who cannot safely confide in their parents or guardians when they need abortion care. 

Qualitative research on judicial bypass experiences indicates that minors navigate multiple hurdles and multiple forms of stigma in seeking bypass. 

 

Bookmark these references:

Guttmacher Institute “Parental Involvement” Mandates for Abortion Harm Young People, But Policymakers Can Fight Back

Ci3 Policy Brief Laws Requiring Parental Involvement in Abortion: Unnecessary and Potentially Harmful

Coleman-Minahan, K., Stevenson, A. J., Obront, E., & Hays, S. (2019). Young women’s experiences obtaining judicial bypass for abortion in Texas. Journal of Adolescent Health, 64(1), 20-25.

 

Mandated Misinformation

Laws that require medical providers to give people seeking abortion care inaccurate or misleading information about the safety of abortion as part of a state’s effort to dissuade people from accessing care

 

Research shows:

State mandates that require providers to give their patients scientifically inaccurate statements about the safety of abortion undermine patient-provider trust and place an undue emotional burden on people seeking abortion care.

In 2018, an independent panel of experts conducted a non-partisan review of the last 40 years of scientific research on abortion and concluded that abortion, in all forms, is medically safe and effective. 

Bookmark these references:

Guttmacher Institute Evidence You Can Use: Mandatory Counseling for Abortion 

Informed Consent Project How Does your State Compare? scorecard 

The National Academies of Science, Medicine, and Engineering (NASEM) report on the Safety and Quality of Abortion Care in the United States 

 

Medicaid Coverage Bans

Laws that mirror the federal Hyde Amendment and ban or the restrict the use of state funds to cover abortion under public insurance. 

 

Research shows:

One in four low income women seeking abortion care are forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy due to Medicaid coverage bans. Those that do receive care report significant financial hardship and delays in accessing care. 

Disparities in coverage for abortion care in health insurance deepen already existing inequities in access to care- particularly for poor people, people of color, and young people. 

Bookmark these references:

Evidence You Can Use: Medicaid Coverage of Abortion Guttmacher Institute 

Ibis Reproductive Health and All* Above All The Impact of Medicaid Coverage Restrictions on Abortion

 

Data in action: proactive spotlight

North Carolina’s RBG Act (Remove Barriers/Gain Access to Abortion Act)

“We should be finding ways to eliminate barriers and increase the number of supportive policies in our state, instead of continuing to place barriers to accessing healthcare.This is particularly important during the pandemic.”

-RFLC member, Rep. Julie von Haefen quoted in The Fayetteville Observer on 3/2/2021

 

Drawing on the data from the Evaluating Priorities analysis conducted by Ibis Reproductive Health and the Center for Reproductive Rights (which found that states with the most abortion restrictions tend to have the fewest policies that actually support women, pregnant people, children and families), North Carolina’s recently introduced RBG Act would:

  • Repeal the biased counseling requirement and 72-hour delay before someone may access abortion care
  • Allow NPs, PAs, and CNMs to provide abortions within their scope of practice
  • Repeal the ban on abortions provided via telemedicine
  • Repeal the insurance/funding bans that prohibit abortion coverage in ACA plans in NC, the state employee health plan, local government employee health plans, and Medicaid
 

For additional resources, messaging guidance, or to be connected with a research expert on reproductive health topics, please reach out to fran@stateinnovation.org.