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Rachel Gold and Elizabeth Nash

Guttmacher Institute

Rachel Benson Gold joined the staff of the Guttmacher Institute in 1979 and currently holds the position of Director of Policy Analysis and Washington Office Operations in the Institute's Public Policy Division. Her expertise is on the role of the public and private sectors in financing reproductive health care. Ms. Gold is the author of several reports and articles in the field of reproductive health and recently completed an analysis of the critical role of Medicaid in providing publicly funded family planning services.

Elizabeth Nash is a Public Policy Associate in the Guttmacher Institute's Washington DC office. She coordinates the efforts of the state team, which analyzes legislative, regulatory and judicial actions on reproductive health issues and develops Guttmacher's monthly State Policies in Brief series and update of state policy developments. Ms. Nash joined the Institute in 1999.


All Work

State Legislative Trends 2006

Rachel Gold and Elizabeth Nash

Rachel Benson Gold is the Guttmacher Institute's Director of Policy Analysis and Elizabeth Nash holds the position of Public Policy Associate. Both work in the Institute's Washington-based Public Policy Division.

Literally hundreds of bills relating to reproductive health and rights get introduced in state legislatures every year. While most of them never make it all the way through the legislative process, several dozen usually do become law—and it is crucial for SRH advocates to be aware of the trends in state legislatures, both positive and negative.

Over the course of 2006, 29 states enacted a total of 62 new laws addressing a wide range of reproductive health and rights-related concerns. Although this represents nearly 20% fewer laws than the 78 enacted in 2005, it follows a long-standing pattern of lessened activity in even-numbered years that may be largely due to circumstances unrelated to reproductive health politics: 21 states only address budget bills—the locus of much reproductive health policymaking—in odd-numbered years, and legislatures in six states convene only in odd-numbered years. This analysis addresses enacted laws related to abortion (26 new laws), contraception (11) and statutory rape reporting (3).

The States in 2006 — Light and Shadow

Rachel Gold and Elizabeth Nash

Editor's note: This blog post is coauthored by Rachel Benson Gold and Elizabeth Nash. 

Rachel Benson Gold is the Guttmacher Institute's Director of Policy Analysis and Elizabeth Nash holds the position of Public Policy Associate. Both work in the Institute's Washington-based Public Policy Division.

Nothing is certain in life but death and taxes, and maybe the fact that the world of reproductive health can always be counted upon to generate plenty of excitement. For those of us who make a living following reproductive health issues at the state level, 2006 is no exception - with high-profile events like the referendum on South Dakota's abortion ban or the ballot initiatives on parental notification for abortion in California and Oregon only the tip of the iceberg.

So what all has been happening so far in 2006? By the beginning of October, just over 1,200 bills on topics related to sexual and reproductive health had been introduced in the 50 state legislatures-and 107 new laws had been enacted in 37 states.

But even as reproductive rights continue to come under attack in a number of states, state-level advocates and national organizations are working to protect and increase access to reproductive health care. As a result of their work we also have many positive developments to report.

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