Abortion Rights Groups Go on Offense to Expand Women's Access to Abortion

Jan 20, 2016, 06:00 ET from Public Leadership Institute from ,National Institute for Reproductive Health

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Public Leadership Institute (PLI), joined by the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH), today launched a bold new offensive strategy to fight for reproductive rights and justice. The strategy represents a major move by the abortion rights movement in response to the passage of 318 new abortion restrictions since January of 2010.

"The battle over abortion access is in the states, not in Washington DC. And it is far past time for us to go on offense," said Gloria Totten, President of PLI. "Working with our allies at the state and national levels, we'll fight back with our own model policies that improve women's access to abortion care and with sustained, aggressive state initiatives that can reverse the tide of anti-abortion restrictions imposed on women over the last six years."

This new, offensive strategy was kicked off with the release of A Playbook for Abortion Rights, a unique new resource for policymakers, advocates and the public that provides 29 model policies necessary for improving women's access to abortion care and shifting the debate about abortion. The Playbook includes bills that counter some of the most major obstacles to abortion access, such as the Truth in Medicine Act and the Accountability for Clinic Violence Act as well as bills that expand access to abortion, such as the Abortion Coverage Equity Act. It also includes model policies designed to shift the debate on abortion, such as the Women's Right to the Pill Act, the Abortion is Health Care Resolution, and the From Day One Act. PLI will promote the Playbook to its network of 13,000 state legislators, statewide officials, city councilors, county commissioners, advocates and the public.

The centerpiece of the strategy will be on-going, sustained policy campaigns in as many as eight states in 2016 and continuing in even more states in 2017. Using the Playbook as a guide, PLI will work with national and state reproductive rights and justice allies to drive a proactive policy agenda in the states backed by strong and visible grassroots mobilization and communications activities.

"We are going to work directly with the groups on the front lines to help them develop the best strategy for their state, the best policies to push," said Totten. "And we will make sure they have the resources needed to fight at the scale required to counter our opponents and shift the debate. We are on the move."

New polling released today by NIRH finds that voters across the country oppose the sustained attack on abortion rights in the states and prefer policies that support a woman who has decided to have an abortion. This polling found that slightly more than half of all voters are unaware of the proliferation anti-abortion laws and nearly two-thirds think such laws are headed in the wrong direction. More than 70 percent of voters across the board want a woman's experience in having an abortion to be legal, respectful, supportive, affordable, and without pressure or embarrassment. Even greater proportions – more than 90 percent – want it to be safe and informed by medically accurate information.

"There is a misguided assumption that the public is divided on abortion, and that abortion restrictions have the tacit approval of the voters," said Andrea Miller, President of NIRH. "But when the public learns about the staggering intensity of such laws against abortion, which place women's safety, autonomy and dignity in jeopardy, they become outraged and eager to pass laws that respect and support a woman who has decided to have an abortion."

NIRH today is launching another key element of this new, offensive strategy – an education and engagement ad campaign in top publications in New York and Washington, DC and via social media throughout the country that aims to inform women about the impact of the anti-abortion restrictions in the states and engage them in the burgeoning movement to go in a more proactive direction on abortion rights.

"Last year, we witnessed advocates and legislators stepping forward in record numbers to promote legislation that supports women's reproductive and sexual health, rights, dignity and autonomy," said Miller. "We proudly partnered with many state and local organizations to plant the seeds of change, and we're excited to build on the momentum by partnering with PLI and other organizations to galvanize public support and secure lasting change for women and families."

This strategic initiative kicks off on the eve of the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled a woman's right to an abortion is protected under the Constitution.

"This week's Roe v. Wade anniversary is a reminder of an important milestone for abortion rights. But the truth is that even though a majority of Americans support keeping abortion legal, reproductive freedom is often not a reality for women in this country who are being shamed and punished by burdensome restrictions, said Totten. "With our new, offensive strategy – grounded in the policies in the Playbook and sustained state organizing campaigns – we will effectively fight back."

The Public Leadership Institute (PLI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy and leadership center organized to raise public awareness on key issues and to develop public leaders who will improve the economic and social conditions of all Americans. PLI conducts non-partisan research, policy development, education and organizing activities to increase public awareness of issues related to the economy, civil rights, education, health care, the environment and reproductive freedom and provides educational conferences, programs, trainings, materials and opportunities that enable individuals to learn and apply the skills required to be effective public leaders.

The National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) works across the country to increase access to reproductive health care by changing public policy, galvanizing public support, and normalizing women's decisions to have abortions and use contraception. NIRH conducts independent public opinion, communications, and policy research and analysis, and partners with local, state, and national organizations, providing funding, strategic guidance, capacity building, and technical assistance.

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SOURCE Public Leadership Institute; National Institute for Reproductive Health