From 2011 to 2014, the number of legislative restrictions against abortion rights skyrocketed to 231, quadrupling the number of restrictions within just three years. In 2014 alone, legislators enacted 26 brand new measures to restrict access to abortion rights.
According to a new report by the Guttmacher Institute, the number of measures enacted are not just surging, but the severity of these 'hostility' classifications is alarming and threatening to women's rights.
The same 18 states keep introducing these measures, and all of these states lie in the South and Midwest. According the report, thirty-eight percent of the country is now considered to be extremely hostile to abortion rights.
What does it mean when a state is "extremely hostile towards abortion"?
It means that states can grant 'fetal personhood' in lieu of a pregnant woman's rights, thereby prioritizing fetal rights over women's rights. (Ahem, Tennessee.) It means that a pregnant woman can also be criminalized if she is struggling with drug or alcohol issues in the name of protecting the fetus, instead of offering treatment. (COUGH, TENNESSEE.)
It can also mean that you may live in a state that requires doctors to provide women with medically inaccurate information about the 'side effects' of an abortion. Or you could be a state like Missouri, which extended mandatory waiting periods from 24 to 72 hours even though it has no impact on abortion rates. You could be like Texas or Oklahoma, both of whom have funding restrictions.
And what does this spike in hostility mean for American women?
It means that more than half of U.S. women of reproductive age live in a state that is hostile or extremely hostile to abortion rights.
Bottom line: If the state you live in is considered hostile, you are not supported to avoid unplanned pregnancies because you don't have access to affordable family planning services or comprehensive sexuality education. And if you happen to be pregnant (planned or unplanned), you're not granted access to a comprehensive range of reproductive health care services, including safe abortion.
So what can you do? The magic abortion rights trifecta:
Vote pro-choice politicians.
Call your policy-makers when bills are up for debate.
Show a supportive presence at abortion clinics nationwide, but especially in the 38% of states now considered 'extremely hostile' towards abortion rights.
Note: This piece originally appeared on sherights.com.