RFLC State Legislators Release Video and Letter Showcasing Importance of Leadership to Advance Abortion Rights

August 2018

DENVER, Colo. — In a new video, state legislators from Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, and Virginia are sharing their excitement about this year’s energy in advancing state-level policies to protect and expand reproductive rights, health, and justice.

In the video, Georgia State Senators Nan Orrock and Nikema Williams, Georgia State Representative Renitta Shannon, Maryland Delegate Ariana B. Kelly, Virginia Delegate Jennifer Boysko, Arizona Representative Athena Salman, and Illinois Senator Elgie Sims discuss their challenges and successes in advancing reproductive freedom in 2018.

In the video, Sen. Orrock notes, “New generations of men and women are rising that endorse and support women’s reproductive freedom,” while Del. Boysko makes clear that “our economic success depends on being able to control our fertility and decide when we want to have families.” Sen. Williamsunderscores this point, saying “…if you want a thriving economy, then you want women to have autonomy over decisions that they make about their bodies.”

These seven legislators are among the 309 state legislators from 44 states who are members of theReproductive Freedom Leadership Council. Last week, RFLC legislators signed onto an open letter opposing the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court and calling for a new era in state-based solutions to expand access to reproductive health care, including abortion care. These legislators recognize that should Roe v. Wade be overturned, policies determined by state legislatures will determine where and when women have access to abortion care, and they are rising to the challenge to protect abortion rights at the state level.

While a record-breaking number of women are running for office in 2018, the legislators in the video note the challenges that exist when majority-male legislatures consider policies that affect women’s reproductive lives and rights and the evident change in the culture of state legislatures when more women have a seat at the table. A Reuters analysis shows the number of women in statehouses could reach an all-time high next year.

The video also recounts state policy successes in 2018 to advance reproductive health, including:

  • AZ: A bill sponsored by Rep. Salman to ensure menstrual equity among women who are incarcerated ultimately stalled, but the public outcry led to the state Department of Correctionsupdating their policy to increase the number of feminine hygiene products available to inmates.
  • IL: Sen. Sims sponsored SB3503 to require lactation rooms for employees or visitors of circuit courts, ensuring breastfeeding moms have a place to go. The bill awaits signature from the governor.
  • MD: Del. Kelly led the successful effort to ensure that insurance covers a full year’s supply of contraception, making it easier for women to have consistent access to their chosen method.
  • VA: The governor’s budget includes funding for a pilot program to expand access to long-acting reversible contraception.

Also released was a video of SiX Director of Reproductive Rights Kelly Baden discussing the unique role of state legislators in determining access to abortion and the opportunity the RFLC presents to ensure access is expanded rather than restricted.