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More than 400 bills aimed at improving reproductive health have been introduced in 2018: report

More than 400 bills aimed at improving reproductive health have been introduced in 2018: report
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More than 400 bills aimed at improving reproductive health have been introduced across 44 states in 2018, according to a new report. 

The National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) on Monday released a report that found fewer state-level initiatives related to reproductive rights were introduced this year than in 2017, but that overall legislation has continued to skyrocket under President TrumpDonald John TrumpCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation MORE's administration. 

"From our perspective, we’re seeing that 2018 is really shaping up to be an important continuation, or even in some ways a doubling-down on the kind of momentum and progress that we saw in 2017," President of NIRH Andrea Miller told The Hill. 

NIRH attributes state bills that "expand access to abortion and contraception, increase access to pregnancy care, promote comprehensive sexuality education, support parents and families, and prohibit discrimination based on reproductive decisions" to activism against Trump policies.

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Last June, the NIRH reported 581 reproductive health bills had been introduced in 2017. Eighty-six of those bills were enacted by the end of the year, Miller said. 

So far in 2018, 63 of the proposed reproductive health bills have been fully enacted. 

More than one-quarter of the proposed pieces of legislation this year revolve around improving access to contraception, while another quarter would prohibit discrimination, according to the report. 

Miller said states are mobilizing in response to a Republican-majority Congress and presidential administration that are "hostile to reproductive freedom." 

"There have unfortunately been so many examples [of threats to reproductive rights] in the last year and a half since the Trump-Pence administration came in that we’re seeing tremendous mobilization and action all across the country," Miller said. 

She pointed to movements by the administration to defund Planned Parenthood, roll back the Title IX family planning program and gut the Affordable Care Act.

Trump's recent nomination of conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court this month reignited a national debate about Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in the U.S. Some critics have expressed fear that Kavanaugh would cast the deciding vote in a case to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

Trump nominated Kavanaugh after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. 

"All of this was happening before the announcement that Justice Kennedy was retiring, which has put a finer point on the threat to Roe v. Wade and the importance of acting at the state level to protect reproductive freedom," Miller said.

Though she identified 31 anti-abortion rights state legislatures in the U.S., Miller said many states that were stagnant on the issue of reproductive health are mobilizing this year. 

A number of states still have anti-abortion laws on their books and activists are urging state legislatures to overturn them now out of fear that the right could be removed at the federal level.

On Wednesday, the Massachusetts state legislature passed a law that would repeal the pre-Roe v. Wade criminal ban on abortion. Miller said the governor is "ginned up to sign it shortly."

"That's a example of the ways that states are really stepping up right now," Miller said.