In the US, the abortion law in effect until mid-February was so lax that, according to one study, more than half of women who obtained an abortion in the last three years had the procedure botched.
Now, in a new report, a group of reproductive rights activists argues that the laws are outdated and that the US has a responsibility to act.
What is the US abortion law?
The US abortion laws have long been controversial, with some states passing restrictions that were later overturned.
The law on abortion was passed in 1973, following decades of Republican control of Congress, and was meant to protect women’s health and safety.
But the restrictions were gradually eroded by a series of Supreme Court decisions, including in 2010, when the justices ruled that the right to abortion is protected by the US constitution.
“It’s time for a fundamental rethink of the law and the state of the nation,” says Caroline Pearson, director of the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan public policy institute based in New York.
“Abortion is one of the most important social issues of our time and there’s a growing recognition that it’s not a right we have.”
In the report, titled Women’s Rights Under the Abortion Law, a coalition of groups including Planned Parenthood, the National Women’s Law Center and the ACLU called for the US to enact a “reform of the abortion laws that have long placed women’s safety and health at risk”.
The report, which was released last week, argues that abortion restrictions have long made it harder for women to get an abortion.
It notes that in 2007, for example, the first abortion clinic in the US was shuttered in Arizona.
“Women in America are being forced to travel farther and longer distances to get abortions, and the risks are too great for many,” the authors wrote.
“The new study shows that these risks were well documented in the first two decades of the 20th century, and that they continue to be a major obstacle to access to abortion.”
The report’s authors also noted that the abortion restrictions, while ostensibly designed to protect the health of women, have also resulted in the loss of jobs for thousands of women.
In 2016, for instance, a study by the Brennan Centre found that one in five female factory workers in the United States have experienced some form of discrimination because of their reproductive health, and many are forced to seek abortions.
Some of these workers may have had a miscarriage, birth defects or a rare disease that would prevent them from working.
In the 1970s, when abortions were legal, a large majority of American women had their abortion performed at home.
But in the 1990s, the Roe v Wade ruling gave women the right of abortion in most states, which meant that women could access an abortion at any clinic or home health facility.
“In the past, the legal framework that was in place had the expectation that women would make that decision themselves, not through a hospital or clinic,” says Sarah Kliff, a senior research associate at the Brennan center.
“This is a huge issue and a huge public health concern.”
What are the issues surrounding abortion in America?
The report also highlights the economic impacts of the laws, which have been passed in the name of women’s rights.
According to the Brennan report, the costs of the restrictions have been estimated at between $150 billion and $200 billion per year.
The report says that the costs have been largely borne by the poor and people of colour.
“There’s no way that we can address these issues in a reasonable and equitable way,” says Pearson.
“But we can do something to mitigate the impact that these laws have had on women.”
It is estimated that the number of abortions in the USA has risen by 50% since 1973, according the Brennan centre.
What’s at stake for the women’s right to an abortion?
The Brennan report argues that these restrictions have had the effect of making it harder to access abortion.
Pearson says that many women who are poor and who may be denied health care have experienced the restrictions as barriers to accessing abortions.
“For some, they are just unable to afford to travel to a clinic, and for them, the only option is an abortion,” she says.
“That’s why we’re calling for a repeal of these laws and the reinstatement of the federal health insurance requirement to cover abortion services.”
The bill introduced by Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, also calls for a national health insurance mandate that would allow insurance companies to cover abortions, but would also allow insurance plans to exclude coverage of abortion.
This would provide insurance companies with a choice of covering abortion and not cover it.
The bill also calls on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to review its policies regarding abortion coverage.
According, the report calls on HHS to revise its regulations to include an “adequate and timely” deadline for insurers to determine whether an abortion is covered under their policies.
The group also wants to see the number and type of abortions covered by the Affordable Care Act, as well as other reproductive