Progressive Local Government for the 21st Century

Women’s Health

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The Problems & Progressive Local Solutions

Reproductive rights and justice include policies aimed at generating equality of all people to make healthy choices about their own gender, body, sexual identity and community. Reproductive justice goes beyond abortion access to include decisions impacted by reproduction or sex. Conservative Federal and state legislators across the country have sought to roll back reproductive freedom protections. The Trump Administration has led efforts to undermine the right to access safe healthcare including for abortion procedures, including securing a conservative Supreme Court. Existing State-level litigation could result in regressive caselaw at the Federal level, while conservative state and federal legislators have generated new restrictions on women.

Available Local Levers & Targets of Reforms

While lawsuits play out, progressive state legislators and executives can do much to both advocate for full rights and protect existing access. Ensuring full funding for existing facilities, working with allies and local organizations to create new access where helpful, and advocating for increased protections for a woman’s right to choose are all critical local actions. Paid family and sick leave are fundamental components of reproductive freedom, and expanding existing paid leave programs is a top priority. In addition to helping women receive healthcare, education and outreach help people realize the dramatic assault on women’s rights underway.

Current Reforms & Tools to Fight for Them

Some critical policy areas include:

  • Expanding healthcare and conversations around healthcare to center women’s rights and bodily autonomy.
  • Passing the Equal Rights Amendment, which would increase legal protections against discrimination for women including in the healthcare industry.
  • Increase the timeframe for legal abortion procedures.
  • Amplify abortion stories – stories of abortions including reasons why from women who have had them to help destigmatize.
  • Ordinances or bills requiring healthcare provision contracts entered by the county or state to provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare.
  • Frequently engaging in conversations on reproductive freedom informed by evidence-based suggestions of women’s health advocacy organizations.
  • Researching and discussing the impact of incarceration on reproductive freedom including family planning and childcare support.
  • Expanding family protections such as extending parental leave and increasing the number of paid sick days.


Taking it to the Next Level

Advocates are working to create new protections as well:

  • Combatting the proliferation of “pregnancy crisis centers” that operate solely to dissuade women from receiving an abortion and do not provide medical treatment.
  • Prevent legislation that would make it harder for women to seek abortions after 20+ weeks.
  • Fighting against criminalization of reproductive rights through broader arguments against overcriminalization.
  • Enshrining Roe v. Wade into law and preventing state-level challenges through state-level legislation guaranteeing safe access to abortion services and women’s healthcare clinics.
  • Fully decriminalizing sex work – criminalization of online pages where sex workers could solicit clients has contributed to increase in violence against women.


Ongoing challenges include the above-mentioned pregnancy crisis centers and criminalization of women’s health. Conservative Christian advocates continue to create legislation and litigation that limits access to safe abortion services, chipping away at Roe v. Wade while looking for a case that a conservative Supreme Court might overturn. The Court, currently frequently a 5-4 conservative split in ideological cases, could unilaterally end Roe v. Wade if a Republican President is able to appoint another Supreme Court Justice and does not nominate one protective of women’s health. The risk to Roe has perhaps never been greater, and the corresponding need for state-level actors to protect and enshrine women’s reproductive rights has never been more urgent.

Helpers & Allies

There are a constellation of groups working to protect reproductive rights, including EMILY’s List, which seeks to elect more female candidates committed to women’s reproductive health rights, Planned Parenthood, which provides healthcare clinics including for reproductive health, the Alice Paul Institute, which has championed the Equal Rights Amendment and the health benefits that equal treatment under the law could provide, the women’s reproductive health advocacy organization NARAL, the Black Women’s Health Imperative, which shines light on race-and-gender healthcare disparities, sex worker advocacy organization Decrim NOW and NY, the National Women’s Health Network and its critical examination of pharmaceutical companies’ failure to properly keep women’s drugs safe, and more.