Wednesday, November 1, 2023
As a partner to the Society for Family Planning’s #WeCount effort, we created an open-access longitudinal dataset of state laws that impact abortion service delivery and access after the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. The dataset captures restrictions related to abortion bans, self-managed abortion, medication abortion, and criminal penalties, and protections such as interstate shield laws, data privacy, ballot measures, and expanded provision. The dataset also tracks litigation relevant to the impact on abortion provision. We explore state-level trends in the dataset findings, describe the study’s empirical methods, and discuss implications of an uncertain legal landscape on the quality and availability of reproductive healthcare.
We coded policy variables using legal epidemiology methods to produce standardized legal data tracking developments in all 50 states and Washington, DC over a one-year period.
As of January 1, 2023, 19 states have attempted to enforce near-total bans on abortion. Nine states’ bans were subject to ongoing legal challenges, adding to the confusion of a rapidly shifting legal landscape. In an attempt to counter this hostile landscape, 17 states have enacted interstate “shield” laws, which aim to protect patients, providers, and helpers from legal consequences related to abortion provided in states where care is still lawful.
Unclear legal risk chills the availability of abortion care and healthcare more broadly, such as miscarriage management and other pregnancy complications. As both patients and providers continue struggling to understand their rights within a deeply inequitable and constantly evolving environment, timely and accurate data on state abortion regulations are essential to safeguarding reproductive health.