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What Grades Does Your State Get on Choice?

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NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation today released the 20th edition of Who Decides? The Status of Women's Reproductive Rights in the United States, the nation's most comprehensive report on choice-related legislation and laws. This year's report features the voices of the Millennial Generation, the largest and most diverse generation in our country's history.

The new Who Decides? comes amidst a changed legislative landscape. Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, said the public will be surprised to see lawmakers in Washington, D.C. and in statehouses across the country pursue an aggressive anti-choice agenda that they did not ask for in last November's elections:

My sincere hope would be for legislators to focus on the country's pressing challenges rather than undermining a woman's right to choose, but the outlook is not promising. Anti-choice lawmakers, in their words and actions, are pushing for a wave of proposals that would open the door to more political interference in the doctor-patient relationship. This agenda is out of step with our country's priorities.

In the 2010 elections, anti-choice forces picked up 42 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and six seats in the U.S. Senate. There are now also 15 states with fully anti-choice governments (both a majority of the legislature and the governor are anti-choice). That's up from 10 last year!

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation held an event this afternoon to launch the 20th edition of Who Decides?. We were joined by pro-choice coalition partners and members of the news media. Nancy Keenan highlighted the report's key findings.

Donna Crane, policy director at NARAL Pro-Choice America, gave an overview of what we can expect from Congress and the states in the next year. She drew special attention to a new law in Nebraska that bans abortion at 20 weeks, without an adequate exception for threats to a woman's health, for cases in which the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, or for cases of fetal anomaly. The law targeted Dr. LeRoy Carhart, whose practice is located in Nebraska. Anti-choice groups are threatening to pass copycat laws in other states in 2011. 

New Hampshire received an A- grade in the new Who Decides?, and has a history of strong bipartisan support for the right to choose. But anti-choice gains in both houses of the state legislature could threaten New Hampshire's pro-choice status. Olivo said that, as recent as yesterday, legislative leaders had vowed to pass a parental-involvement mandate that could jeopardize the health and safety of vulnerable teens.  A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers repealed a similar measure in 2007. That law had been the focus of a court challenge that went to the U.S. Supreme Court.

NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire will work closely with pro-choice Gov. John Lynch to make sure that a woman's right to make personal, private medical decisions doesn't go the way of the Old Man of the Mountain.

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