The Status of Women in the States Initiative at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research provides timely data and research on women’s progress and well-being in the United States on a number of important indicators: employment and earnings, political participation, reproductive rights and health, economic security and opportunity, and work and family.
IWPR intends that legislators, advocates, and stakeholders use this report to understand the disparities in women’s reproductive rights and care in the United States, and that such understanding will enable them to take action at the local, state, and federal levels.
This report demonstrates the need to protect and expand access to reproductive health services,
including abortion, at the federal and state levels. Reproductive rights and freedom for women often are determined, in part, by their state of residence, including its political culture, and their ability to access or pay for care. This should not be the case. Access to comprehensive, evidence-based reproductive health care is a fundamental human and civil right.
Reproductive Rights Index Highlights
- The top-ranked state for women’s reproductive rights is New Jersey. California ranks second followed by Washington, Oregon, and Connecticut. All five of the top-ranked states for women’s reproductive rights have also codified the right to abortion in state law.
- The worst-ranked state for women’s reproductive rights is Missouri, ranking 51st in the Index, followed by Idaho, Nebraska, Arkansas, and South Dakota.
- The number of states earning a failing grade has increased since 2015. Seven states earn a failing grade on the Index: Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. In 2015, only four states earned a failing score on the Index.
- Women residing in the highest-ranked states for reproductive rights were also more likely to have higher levels of educational attainment than women in lower-ranked states. In the five top-ranked states, 33 percent of women have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- In the bottom five ranked states, 26 percent of women have a bachelor’s degree or higher. In the bottom five ranked states, the economic loss of abortion restrictions is approximately $8.5 billion ranging from $5.3 billion in Missouri to $362.9 million in South Dakota. In the state of Texas, home to one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country, the economic loss to women and the state economy is $14.5 billion annually.
- Change in State-Level Rankings: The state of Maine, ranked number 23 in 2015 jumped to number seven in 2022. The leap is due, in part, to the state’s coverage of abortion services by public insurance and its expansion of access to Medicaid family-planning services. Arizona and West Virginia moved significantly down the Index, dropping from 24 to 45 and 18 to 44 respectively, due to the loss of public insurance coverage of abortion and the lack of expanded access to Medicaid family-planning services.
This brief was co-authored by C. Nicole Mason, Ph.D., Kate Ryan, M.P.A., Olivia Storz, M.Sc., Georgia Poyatzis, M.A., and Ariane Hegewisch, M.Phil. The authors also appreciate the assistance of current and previous IWPR staff who helped prepare and disseminate this publication, Robyn Watson Ellerbe, Ph.D., Carolina Espinoza, and William Lutz.
This brief was made possible with the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company created by Melinda French-Gates.