State legislatures came into session in January and quickly focused on a range of sexual and reproductive health and rights issues. By the end of the first quarter, legislators in 45 states had introduced 1022 provisions. Of the 411 abortion restrictions that have been introduced so far this year, 17 have passed at least one chamber and 21 have been enacted in five states (FL, IN, KY, SD and UT).

This year’s legislative sessions are playing out on a crowded stage. The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case involving a package of abortion restrictions in Texas; that decision, when handed down in June, could reshape the legal landscape for abortion at the state level. Moreover, just as the state legislatures were hitting their stride in late March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revised the labeling for mifepristone, one of the two drugs used for medication abortion. That decision immediately put the issue back on the front burner by effectively counteracting policies restricting access to medication abortion in a handful of states. (Notably, the Arizona legislature moved within days to enact a measure limiting the impact of the FDA decision in the state.)

Progress on Several Fronts

Despite the ongoing attention to restricting abortion, legislators in several states are looking to expand access to sexual and reproductive health services and education. By the end of the first quarter, legislators in 32 states had introduced 214 proactive measures; of these, 16 passed at least one legislative body and two have been enacted. (This is nearly the same amount as was introduced in all of 2015, when 233 provisions were introduced.)

Although the proactive measures introduced this year span a wide range of sexual and reproductive health and rights issues, three approaches have received particular legislative attention:

Ongoing Assault on Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Services

Even as many legislators are working to expand access to services, others are continuing their now years-long assault on sexual and reproductive health services and rights. Restricting access to abortion continues to garner significant attention. However, last year’s release of a series of deceptively edited sting videos targeting Planned Parenthood has swept both the family planning safety net and biomedical research involving fetal tissue into the fray.